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A Martin Popoff Bibliography

Riff Kills Man: 25 Years of Recorded Hard Rock and Heavy Metal (Power Chord Press, 1993)
The Collectors Guide to Heavy Metal (Collectors Guide Publishing, 1997)
Goldmine Heavy Metal Records Price Guide (Krause Publications, 2000)
20th Century Rock n Roll Heavy Metal (Collectors Guide Publishing, 2000)
Southern Rock Review (Collectors Guide Publishing, 2002)
The Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time (ECWPress, 2003)
The Collectors Guide to Heavy Metal Volume 1: The Seventies (Collectors Guide Publishing, 2003)
The Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums of All Time (ECWPress, 2004)
Blue yster Cult: Secrets Revealed! (Metal Blade Records, 2004)
Contents Under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home & Away (ECWPress, 2004)
The New Wave of British Heavy Metal Singles (Scrap Metal, 2004)
UFO: Shoot Out the Lights (Metal Blade, 2005)
Rainbow: English Castle Magic (Metal Blade, 2005)
The Collectors Guide to Heavy Metal Volume 2: The Eighties (Collectors Guide Publishing, 2005)
Dio: Light Beyond the Black (Metal Blade, 2006)
Black Sabbath: Doom Let Loose (ECWPress, 2006)
Run for Cover: The Art of Derek Riggs (Aardvark Publishing, 2006)
Ye Olde Metal: 1968 to 1972 (Power Chord Press, 2007)
The Collectors Guide to Heavy Metal Volume 3: The Nineties (Collectors Guide Publishing, 2007)
Judas Priest: Heavy Metal Painkillers (ECWPress, 2007)
See for more information.
Copyright Martin Popoff, 2007
Published by ecw press
2120 Queen Street East, Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario, Canada m4e 1e2
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted in any form by any process electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior written permission
of the copyright owners and ecw press.
Judas Priest: Heavy Metal Painkillers is not authorized by Judas Priest or its management.
library and archives canada cataloguing in publication
Popoff, Martin, 1963
Judas Priest : heavy metal painkillers : an illustrated history / by Martin Popoff.
isbn-10: 1-55022-784-x
isbn-13: 978-1-55022-784-0
1. Judas Priest (Musical group)Interviews. 2. Heavy metal
(Music)EnglandHistory and criticism. i. Title.
ml421.j92p829 2007 782.42166'092'2 c2007-903487-x
Managing editor: Crissy Boylan
Cover and Text design: Tania Craan
Back cover photo: Chris Casella
Cover image: Fin Costello/Redferns
Cover background: Diana Walters /
Typesetting: Tania Craan and Mary Bowness
Production: Rachel Brooks
Printing: Transcontinental
The publication of Judas Priest: Heavy Metal Pain Killers has been generously supported by the Government of Canada through
the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (bpidp), and with the assistance of the OMDC Book Fund, an initiative of
the Ontario Media Development Corporation.
c.x.u.: Jaguar Book Group, 100 Armstrong Avenue, Georgetown, on, l7g 5s4
uxi1vu s1.1vs: Independent Publishers Group, 814 North Franklin Street,
Chicago, il 60610
printed and bound in canada
Table of Contents
Photo Credits viii
Introduction ix
1 it was chalk and cheese, really 1
The Early Years
2 It used to baffle people. 15
Rocka Rolla
3 God will crucify you! Dont see this band! 25
Sad Wings of Destiny
4 Come on lads, lets go have a drink 41
Sin After Sin
5 We just set out to write the fastest track
ever written 57
Stained Class
6 Here we are, the ultimate metalheads 65
Hell Bent for Leather
7 There willalways be rumors 81
Unleashed in the East
8 The robot scythes and the laser-beaming hearts
and the molten breath 91
British Steel
9 Rob set his boots on fire 111
Point of Entry
table of contents
judas priest
10 When you hit that continent, its going to change you 125
Screaming for Vengeance
11 People do actually listen to it as a recorded record 141
Defenders of the Faith
12 Flowers didnt grow in our neighborhood 161
13 Wellalways play to that same one million people 179
Priest . . . Live!
14 Pneumatic fingers and laser rays 189
Ram it Down
15 Thereyou go 203
16 If he tattoos this way, hes got to be
a killer bass player 225
17 Painkiller times two 241
18 A lot of strength and character,
thanks to those two guys 255
Glenn Tipton
19 Licorice root in caplet form 263
98 Live Meltdown
20 Action/reaction, positive/negative 269
table of contents
21 This is where allthe best things happen for me 279
22 Five years fighting our way back up 311
23 OK, I can live with this 323
Live in London
24 Well be able to keep our testicles next year 331
Angel of Retribution
25 In happy metal land 369
Notes on Select Images 376
Discography 377
Sources 379
judas priest
photo credits
A bunch of cool Priest fans, many of whom Id now call friends, provided
invaluable visual assistance with this project. The Priest n Popoff Hall Aflame
now features realistic wax likenesses of the following:
Crissy Boylan Crucial to making my Sabbath book come alive, shes been
instrumental here as well, locating cool stuff resulting in the explosion of color
you see before you. The good folks that helped her with this book include: Allan
Atkins (his book, covering the early years of Priest, Dawn of the Metal Gods, is
due out in 2008), Rebekah B, David Bridge, Leah Burlington, Dion DeTora,
Eduardo Grief, Ken Hower, Sean Langlands, Steven J. Messina, Brian Monteiro,
Meghan Newton, Zach Petersen, Simon Phillips, Chris Stew Stewart, and
Edmund Varuolo.
Chris Casella Vital, top-flight working photographer and provider of
some Priest shots.
John Chronis All-around good guy and provider of some key 80s mem-
Rich Galbraith Legendary photog from Oklahoma. Rich is a blast and an
addictive email penpal, and has a classic rock archive to die for.
Mark Gromen Ah yes, the Gromenator. Marks a longtime bud and co-
worker at our mag Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. Takes a lot of pictures for us
including, fortunately, of Halford and Co. Encyclopedic metal knowledge.
Dave Hogue Studious Priest collector and expert on the more recent years
of the band. Provided posters from his archive, for shooting by Dave Wright.
Gregory Olma Again, capable bringer of Priest shots.
James Powell Consider this a coffee table book of James plush and prodi-
gious Priest collection, cos thats sorta what it is. Jim spent countless hours
arranging, scanning and then dont forget putting everything back into
the Heavy Metal Basement. (Yes, buy the DVD of Heavy Metal Parking Lot and
theres a feature on Powells collection!) I made a fun visit to him in Baltimore
where he graciously delivered the goods, defended the faith, and rocked this
book like a hurricane . . . wait, wrong band.
Warren Weaver Warren generously provided shots he took of the band in
Chicago, circa 1979, a nice vintage collection that is much appreciated.
Michael Westbrook He generously provided sweet photos from the bands
visit to the Baltimore Civic Centre in 1981.
Dave Wright Dave cheerfully and skillfully shot most of the memorabilia
you see in here. He was meticulous with his set-up and dang well just wanted to
see it done up right. He also has a gorgeous Maiden collection and is just an all-
round music and metal collector n fan and interesting guy.
judas priest
Despite my mixed feelings about some things they might have done later in their
career, Judas Priest will always be metal gods to me. Their situation, their legacy
. . . man, its like winning the Super Bowl or being the president of the United
States. In both cases, you have joined a club. Super Bowl . . . its kind of cool. Its
less important that youve formed a dynasty, or what a players personal stats
were, but its of utmost importance that you were there and won, even once
you are in the club, a winner forever, your franchise successful. President well,
the cool thing there is that they call you President forever, i.e. long after youve
left the job.
Whats this got to do with Halford, Tipton, Downing, Hill and . . . Binks? Well,
like I say, they can forever exhibit any number of shortcomings, and Ill still bow
to the gods. And this is precisely for one reason. Priest is responsible, in my
opinion, for the unassailably greatest run or vein, or dynasty of metal clas-
sics ever, namely 1976s Sad Wings of Destiny through 1979s Hell Bent for Leather.
And were not just talking really damn good albums here. British Steel is a damn
good album, so is Back in Black, so is Reign in Blood. No, what were talking about
here is material that kicked metal up a notch or 12, not as much as a lone record
like In Rock from 1970 did, or even say . . . oh, lets pick a duo like Paranoid and
Master of Reality. Sure, it gets a little fuzzy. Yes, one cant diminish the import of all
those subsequent Sabbath albums, or Rainbows Rising, or on more micro levels,
the songs Virgin Killer,Breadfan,Fireball, or likely a couple dozen others. But
for some reason Ive always had it in my head, this gulf between 1970 and 1976,
and that gulf ending at an immense wall of closely riveted chromium steel in 1976,
when a speck of an unknown band in satin shirts delivered something called Sad
Wings of Destiny, and in the power-chord process, changed metal forever.
And it didnt stop there thats the beauty of it. That record rewrote the
metal books, raising the bar for riffage and vocal prowess, injecting a slight prog
element or at least vibe (Purple and Sabbath, I suppose, match the album for
prog elements per se), but then Sin After Sin . . . well, bring in Simon Phillips and
metal had just incredibly compacted, intensified and gotten smarter yet again, a
mere year after Sad Wings and its resulting blank stares, but for the perceptive.
Stained Class offered now superhumanly another increase in note density,
drama and precision, matching its predecessor for unsafe speeds (made safe by
this great band). Finally (and lamentably, as you will see argued later in this
book), Killing Machine (retitled Hell Bent for Leather in America), found the
band creating the perfect marriage between their mensa metal magic and a cer-
tain carnal metal commercialism. It is the bands crux album like Roots, like
Reign in Blood, like Ride the Lightning a convergence of two worlds with
judas priest
explosive synergistic results. Yea and verily, despite the pioneering, brave and
immense music-creating of the previous three records, this one is the favorite in
my heart, because it is the work of a Priest no longer prim.
Ive long since started to rankle at telling anybody what is best for them a
best album, this one is bad, etc. so yes, Im telling you now my particular
interaction with Priest and Priests records. And from the above, its a bit nutty
and off the norm, although there are actually quite a number of us forever
changed by one of those 70s records more important than this lowly critic,
rockers who were influenced to achieve and change metal in the next decade.
Sure, many an old schooler will tell you Sad Wings is the best, but if you took an
aggregate of bangers of all ages, British Steel is the best, second place sometimes
going to Screaming for Vengeance. But the beauty of Priests career is that its been
long and varied. Youve come of many different ages listening to this band. If you
are a young raging metalhead . . . well, tons of you out there think Painkiller is
the bands best album. Shameless children of the hair-band era love Turbo for its
happy friendliness. Im sure looking back in ten years, there will be those who
were 17 at the time who swear by Angel of Retribution, or even those of a rebel-
lious naysayer disposition who clang most convincingly to the memory of the
Ripper Owensera albums (although I aint met one of those yet).
In any event and this is me talking again I personally think despera-
tion and a desire to make a bloody career out of this insufferable life so far
caused the band to dumb down all over British Steel. This marked a slide in my
relationship with the band. Sure, Ive been mostly a very loyal fan since 1980
for almost all of the years after, but in my eyes, Priest were no longer innova-
tors, no longer supermen. They were, on and off, making good-to-great
records that contributed to the metal community, but would no longer be held
up as examples of the best we had to offer. Metallica would take over with Ride
the Lightning in 84, making that godly record and then repeating themselves
positively on Master of Puppets, sliding after that, but thankfully making
records that were different from each other. Pantera would cause the next pro-
nounced and prominent Richter blip with 1990s Cowboys from Hell, and I
dont know if weve ever had a too, too obvious metal stormbringer that has
unarguably really raised the ante since.
So, back to that original premise. I literally see 1970 as the first cardio spike:
Black Sabbath, Paranoid, In Rock. I see 1984 as another, 1990 as another. But in
between, man, there is Priest arriving from utter obscurity (and then incredibly,
tragically, unjustly, staying there for a long, long time), bringing Sad Wings of
Destiny in 76, Sin After Sin in 77, Stained Class in 78 and Hell Bent for Leather
in 79. Do you see what Im getting at? Priest had four goddamn blips, and for
that like a Super Bowl champion and a president they are winners forever,
despite missteps, despite, well, never leading in earnest ever again.
And heres their story sort of. Like all of my bios, what follows is more a
look at the bands albums, song by song, comments where obtainable, using my
many interviews with the guys over the years plus some outside press. Let me tell
you, Priest can be a frustrating band to interview. Without exception, every
single member of the present band Rob, Glenn, K.K., Ian and Scott are
exceedingly cautious and decorous about what they say. Even the most
innocuous question can scare them into a long-winded response of very little
substance. Im not sure how I want you to take that, for the guys are unfailingly
polite, good-natured, but . . . let me give you two examples. I asked K.K. about
what would be more of a K.K. song, writing-wise, versus a Glenn song. You
know, the credits are pretty democratic so you cant really tell. The fans would
like to know. No big whoop . . . it might be idle fun to try to spot each of their
personalities in a few Priest classics. He wouldnt answer it wouldnt be fair
or something like that. Second example Rob says it would be unethical to
talk about Halford in a Priest interview or vice versa. First guy I ever talked to
who ever told me something like that. Not very loose, not very rock n roll. I
have many, many examples of questions I thought were pretty soft that
prompted dodged responses or generalities, or most aggravatingly, stacks and
stacks of metal clichs, many of which will unfortunately show up in the fol-
lowing pages, in part because I want you to get a sense of the guys, especially Rob
who can amuse with his pomp and circus pants, charm you, but fill up a sen-
tence with far too much fluff!
Which brings up another point and the guys admit this they really
dont remember. Some of what I think is dodging is simply an honest I dont
recall to a geeky fanboy question that could be eight layers away from them pos-
sibly dredging a cogent response. I found myself constantly reminded of this and
over the years, have tried to ask things differently, or ask questions that I figured
might lead them into remembering. Still, Ive all too often put the phone down
after a 20-minute Priest chat thinking there was absolutely nothing of use there.
Urgh. In any event, thats my Priest interview rant. I love the guys, always will,
but I wish theyd loosen up a bit. Robs a gay heavy metal rocker covered in studs
and leather for Christs sake youd think he could be a bit more adventure-
some in what he says. I mean, hes lived an interesting life. Anyway, enough. Read
on, celebrate this long and determined career with me, one fortunately marked
by not one, but at least two goodly runs at success one creative and then a
couple of years later, one commercial.
Martin Popoff
It was chalk and cheese, really
The Early Years
Like Sabbath, like Trapeze and like half of
Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest struggled to
life under the grey, metal-clanked skies of
Birmingham the black country
smack in the middle of the U.K., just far
enough from easier rock n rolling
London to cause a loud lack of hope.
It has often been said eloquently
and often by all of Priest and all of Sab-
bath that Birmingham, by its very
nature, breeds heavy metal. Steel, car
parts, burning rubber, metal stamping,
tool and die, and early death from black-
ened lungs . . . its all wrapped up like a
fist and a cyst smack at the heart of
industrial Britain, and it was often the
prime motivator to come up with some-
thing anything to get a handsome
young man out from under the yoke that
cursed his kinfolk. Often, that any-
thing was heavy metal, a musical form
forged to compete with the factory
rhythms banging already throbbing heads,
always in the background, always a reminder of
a life of toil and doom.
People talk about it all the time, muses
Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing, on the
Birmingham vibe. It definitely was a very
industrial place and wasnt the most pleasant
place to grow up. Personally, I came from a real
broken home situation so I guess you become a
bit of a rebel . . . you either become a heavy
metal guitar player or you end up in jail!
[laughs] Obviously, you want to express your
aggression and I think, subconsciously, I kind of
perceive the guitar as an instrument, but not
necessarily a musical instrument. Its like a gun
substitute. When you look at it, it can be a
weapon of sorts. Personally, I get as much enjoy-
ment out of looking at a guitar and holding it as
I would actually playing it. Is that weird? Is that
perverse, or what?! It definitely is weird.
Incredibly, the original lineup of one lot
striving to escape such toil, Judas Priest, back
in 1969, not only included no one who is in
the band now, but in fact, no one who would
record the first Judas Priest album, Rocka
Rolla, five years later in 1974. The band Alan
Eade of Ace Management had on his hands
consisted of Ernest Chataway on guitar, Brian
Bruno Stapenhill on bass, John Fezza Par-
tridge on drums, and one Alan John Atkins on
vocals, Atkins being the prime vestige of Priest
history to leave his mark on the band as we
know it, having written songs that would show
up on both Rocka Rolla and 1976s Sad Wings
of Destiny.
It was in fact Atkins and Stapenhill who had
formed the band in West Bromwich, on the
outskirts of Birmingham. Chataway got the
guitar post after the guys searched out a
replacement for John Perry, who had been
killed in an automobile accident. Chataway
had won the job over one Kenneth Downing
Jr., who later claimed to have been a little
overly ambitious at the time, having only
played through an actual amplifier five or six
times at that point. K.K. would recall seeing the
bands old van tearing down the road with
Judas Priest emblazoned on the side, thinking,
What a cool name; I wish I was in that band.
Ernest Chataway was a mere 17 years old,
but could play guitar, keyboards and har-
monica, having sat in with Black Sabbath on
the latter early on, when they were known as
Earth. Atkins and Stapenhill had been around
the block, having played with the Bitta Sweet,
Sugar Stack (also featuring Partridge), Blue
Condition (Al calls this the real Priest prede-
cessor) and the Jug Blues Band. In 1969,
Atkins was asked to join Evolution, but was
dismayed when a three-month tour of
Morocco was proposed, for which Atkins was
also to drive the tour bus. He balked, and tried
to get back with the Jugs, but that was not to
be. Ergo, the Priest beckoned.
With regard to picking Judas Priest as a
name, Al says that Bruno, the bass guitarist in
Judas Priest #1, came up with the idea when
looking for something similar to the Black
Sabbath name which we liked at the time. He
I came from a real broken home
situation so I guess you become a
bit of a rebel . . .you either
become a heavy metal guitar
player or you end up in jail!
got it from a Bob Dylan album called John
Wesley Harding the song was The Ballad of
Frankie Lee and Judas Priest. The curious
moniker can be looked upon as a mild excla-
mation, or the duality of good and bad, Judas
being a betrayer of Christ, a priest being a pro-
ponent thereof. Just on its own, the religious
tone of the name carried a sort of ominous
weight. And moreover, nods to Black Sabbath
in its choosing are multiple and profound. In
later years, K.K. would quip that in the 80s
metal names were all about dungeons and
demons, but in the 70s, the hot set-up was
graveyards and religion.
Judas Priest at this point was going for a
bluesy yet progressive rock sound, also cov-
ering the likes of Quicksilver Messenger
Service and Spirit. Eade had prompted the
band to record a demo, consisting of Atkins
Good Time Woman and Well Stay
Together, which garnered some interest from
Immediate (the much-lauded label run by
Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog
Oldham) and Harvest, the latter of which,
along with Vertigo, was to figure prominently
in British art rock history. A showcase band
warstype gig in Walsall (November 25, 1969,
the bands very first show, attended by Robert
Plant!) resulted in a three-year record deal with
Immediate, but it was not to be, as the label
ended up closing shop two months later.
The band toured into 1970 but then split, all
but Alan moving out of town. Late in that year,
Alan had discovered a young band rehearsing a
form of louder and faster rock, something hed
wanted to explore, inspired in the main by
Black Sabbaths Paranoid. In the band were
Downing, drummer John Ellis, and bassist Ian
Frank Hill (otherwise known as Skull), but no
singer. The rehearsal complex was called Holy
Joes, or by some, Joes Place (run by one Father
Husband), and it was in a converted Church of
England school frequented by many local Mid-
lands bands, due, recalls K.K., to its five-shilling
price and the fact that you could turn up as
loud as you wanted. Rockers using the facility
included Slade, Trapeze and Robert Plant.
Downing remembered his own audition for
Atkins old band, plus he knew Atkins as a
locally famous musician, as well as a talented
singer, drummer, guitarist and writer. All told,
he was more than glad to have Atkins as part
of the group.
It was literally run by a vicar, explains
K.K. There was a church over the road, and
like in England, a lot of those things were kind
of combined. You would have your school,
sometimes with the church attached to the
school, if not just in close proximity. Which is
a really important part in, certainly, Victorian
times and centuries gone by, where children
would actually go to church to say Mass in the
morning, and have assembly in the church, and
events at Christmas time, Easter, harvest times
. . . very important. So it was that type of setup.
It was really run down, deserted, but the vicar
was still there in the vicars house, or the
vicarage. So he would try to make some money
for the upkeep of the building, even though the
rooms were deserted. So he thought, I know
what Ill do. Ill rent these school rooms out to
bands so they can rehearse. He probably didnt
think about that straight away, but maybe a
band knocked on his door one day and said,
it was chalk and cheese, really
What a cool name;
I wish I was in that band.
Could we rehearse here? But we would just go
down there every night, five or six bands
rehearsing. A racket it mustve been as well,
with the acoustics of school rooms in those
days, all that glass. But the vicar would come
around to collect his money while we were
playing. Often he would go straight to the pub
which was just down the corner. But yes, Slade
was one of the bands, pop band huge here in
the 70s. And they used to actually pull up with
an articulated wagon with their gear in it.
K.K.s young band quickly dropped their
Freight moniker and went with Als Judas
Priest. Al had checked with his ex-bandmates
first, and had no problem convincing Ken of
the names merit, Downing still quite enam-
ored with the important vibe of the name, in
fact going so far as to call it the best thing that
happened to the band. A few months later,
Priest began playing around the area, opening
for the likes of Slade, Budgie and Gary Moore,
covering Hendrixs Spanish Castle Magic and
Quatermass Black Sheep of the Family,
oddly, the song that got Ritchie Blackmore and
Ronnie James Dio together and on their way
toward forming Rainbow. K.K. recalls that his
and Ians very first gig with the band, March 6,
1971, was in front of 60 to 70 people, and that
their take on the night was six pounds. Four
months later the band played their first show
in London, which K.K. says turned out to be a
major letdown, describing its location as a
shed at the back of a pub.
Calling their brand of music goodan-
loud, Judas Priest ended up cutting a demo
in July of 71 at the suggestion of their new
manager David Corke. Holy Is the Man and
Mind Conception were recorded at Zella
Records, home also of Black Sabbaths first
demos. Atkins recalls the session as a bit of a
cock-up, claiming to have had a sore throat
and to have been stoned, also lamenting the
live-with-no-overdubs rawness of the recor-
ding. Both of these songs can be heard in
re-recorded form on Atkins fourth solo
album, 1998s Victim of Changes, with Mind
Conception transformed into a modern
heavy metal rocker like hard hair metal,
even power metal and Holy Is the Man
pulsing with some of the originals funk, but
still unrecognizably heavy-handed.
By the close of the year, drummer John Ellis
would be replaced by Alan Skip Moore
Johns last gig would turn out to be October 6th
of 71, with Moore picking up the sticks for a
show the following week. I had a job and John
had a job, recalls Ian Hill, remembering John
quitting the band, telling his version of the
bands murky early rumblings. There was
actually a band called Judas Priest before us.
They were together for about 18 months before
us, but then they split up. Their vocalist was
walking past the rehearsal room one day and
asked us if we wanted a vocalist. None of us
could really hold a tune so we took him on. We
couldnt think of a name, and to make a long
story short, we just called ourselves Judas Priest.
We got well known in our local area in the Mid-
lands. Suddenly people were wanting to see us
200 miles away. I had a job so I could only do it
on weekends. The big jump was asking our-
The big jump was
asking ourselves,
Do we quit our jobs or
do we keep it as a hobby?
selves, Do we quit our jobs or do we keep it as
a hobby? That was the crucial point. Ken and I
quit our jobs and John, unfortunately, didnt.
We have known each other since we were
about five, remarks Hill with respect to K.K.
Downing. We were brought up in the same
housing estate just outside of Birmingham. We
werent really friends until we were about 15 or
16 and first started to get into music. We were
into progressive rock, which in those days was
Cream, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall & the Blues-
breakers and Fleetwood Mac. We had very, very
similar tastes in music. It brought us together
and we formed a band with John Ellis, another
friend from school. But yes, we didnt have a
vocalist in those days. We were just quite happy
to go to rehearsal rooms and thrash out a few
of our favorite songs.
Ian had discovered the bass through his
father, who had played double bass himself.
Sadly, Ians dad passed away when Hill was
only 15. His mother eventually remarried a
carpenter, who helped Ian out by building
some of his earliest bass cabinets. Ians distin-
guished lot in life was cast when, having
wrecked his car, he chose to spend the acquired
insurance money on his first bass rather than
replace his set of wheels. Previous to that, he
had been plunking away at a guitar strung up
with big fat bass strings.
That same year, 1972, also marked the com-
position of three tracks that would, two years
hence, feature on Rocka Rolla, namely Never
Satisfied, Winter and Caviar and Meths,
the bands set closer, originally longer than the
version that would show up on the album,
sporting some additional impressive modern
metal riffing. Atkins has proposed that a stan-
dard set list of the day might have run Spanish
Castle Magic, Winter, Holy Is the Man,
Voodoo Rag, Black Sheep of the Family,
Never Satisfied, Whiskey Woman, Joey,
Mind Conception and finally, Caviar and
Meths. Bands Priest had shared stages with up
to this point included White Rabbit, Trapeze,
Slade, Graphite, Supertramp, Bronco, and on
one occasion, Black Sabbath.
Moore would shortly leave Priest for a local
recording act called Sundance, before
returning for Sad Wings of Destiny. With new
drummer Christopher Louis Congo Camp-
bell in tow (black, with a huge afro!), the band
opened for the likes of Status Quo, Thin Lizzy
and Family. The band was now working exten-
sively, having hooked up with early Sabbath
manager Jim Simpson, Tony Iommi, Norman
Hood and their Iommi Management Agency,
or I.M.A., who also had on their roster the
Flying Hat Band, featuring Glenn Tipton. In
January of 73, the company was now called
Tramp Entertainments, but management
stayed essentially the same, with Priest being
handled by David Corke and Norman Hood.
At this juncture, Al Atkins would leave the
band, citing the poor financial situation of
playing gigs for ten pounds a night (later 25).
My third year with them became a money
struggle, says Al. I was the only one mar-
ried, with a baby daughter, Sharon, to feed.
The bigger we became, the more overheads
we got, so we always ended up with little to
no money at all.
Al was also reticent to tour without an
album to promote he had been writing all
the songs, and indeed asked by management to
keep cranking them out. But an album deal
never materialized, even though there was
interest from Gull Records, who would eventu-
ally hook up with the band for their first two
albums. Ian says that finances were so dire at
times that they would send one of the gals in to
charm a drink out of some pub patron, and
it was chalk and cheese, really
then bring the drink out to the thirsty rockers.
Ken would shake his head and say that after
youd paid off the van rental and the PA com-
pany, youd be lucky enough to have enough
for fish and chips that night. The guys would
also pull into town and announce themselves
as artists signed to Atlantic, landing the odd gig
that way, including one at a Greek restaurant
for 15 pounds and a bunch of food.
Atkins last tour with the band was to be
called the Heavy Thoughts tour, named after
one of the new songs he had written, in and
about the time he wrote Whiskey Woman,
which would morph into the Priest epic Victim
of Changes. Heavy Thoughts exists in un-
finished demo form, and a version of it can be
heard on Als 03 solo album of the same name.
It is of note that Al admits to a certain
amount of drug-taking no big deal in the
70s but otherwise tried to keep the band in
tip-top shape, not even allowing girlfriends at
rehearsals. K.K. and Ian were with me for
Al Atkins
about three years and were hard-working lads
with one thing in mind they are going to the
top of the tree, no matter what. But still, I had
to try to keep K.K., Ian and John, the
drummer, focused on the band only. But John
kept bringing his girlfriend everywhere with
us, so I told him, You dont take your woman
to work, so dont bring her again with us and
it didnt go down too well with him and he
started mouthing off to me, so I threatened to
beat him up. None of their girlfriends liked me
because of this but I didnt give a shit. To me
the main thing was the band thats all.
Musing over the direction of the band,
Atkins ventures that at the beginning we
played covers of bands like Quatermass and it
all sounded very blues rock, but in Judas
Priest #2, with K.K. and Ian, it started to get
an edge to the sound, although we still played
covers even by Hendrix, would you
believe? then gradually added my songs to
the list, like Mind Conception, Never Satis-
fied, Winter, Caviar and Meths, Whiskey
Woman, Joey, Voodoo Rag and Holy Is the
Man. It was at this time K.K. wrote his first
ever song, Run of the Mill. A lot of these
songs featured on their debut album, Rocka
Rolla. I myself wasnt aware of us being a
metal band at the time. Heavy Thoughts was
one I only half-finished.
Atkins would close out touring late into
December of 72, with the reconfiguration of
the band coming in winter/summer of 73,
Rob Halfords first gigs with the band com-
mencing in April of that year. By the end of the
Atkins era, Priest had added as stagemates
Freedom, Ace, Wild Angels, Burnt Oak, Dr.
Ross, Gary Moore, Curved Air, Alf, Mahatma
Kane Jeeves, Danta, Strife and Thin Lizzy. Yes,
we opened up for loads of top bands, recalls
Atkins, including Family . . . Roger Chapman
was one of my heroes, plus Status Quo and
Gary Moore, who was and still is my favorite
guitar player.
it was chalk and cheese, really
K.K. and Ian were hard-working
lads with one thing in mind
theyare going to the top of
the tree, no matter what.
So yes, Atkins would be replaced by the
indomitable metal god Rob Halford, a mere
mortal back in 1973. Campbell would also
leave the band (as would roadie Keith Evans,
who moved on to a job with AC/DC), with Ian
and K.K. deciding to soldier on. Rob came
from a band called Hiroshima, bringing with
him his drummer John Hinch. Al eventually
left his office job and returned to rock n roll,
touring until 1978 with a band called Lion, fea-
turing his Priest cohort Brian Stapenhill along
with Budgie drummer Pete Boot. Adds Al, I
almost joined Trapeze when Glenn Hughes left
to go with Deep Purple. They were looking for
a bass player and vocalist to replace him but I
turned it down. And with regard to the Priest
guys these days, we did a reunion meeting
about five years ago for one of our old roadies
to raise money for a charity he organized at the
bar he had bought. I still phone Ian when hes
in town, and I met up with them backstage at a
gig last year.
K.K. is wont to tell the story of visiting the
Halford household with Ian Hill (Ian is
married to Robs sister, Sue; Ken was dating her
friend Carol Hiles), and hearing Rob (at that
point Bob, and later Robert) do harmonies to
Doris Day on the telly, Downing quite
impressed with his trilling. Rob affirms the gist
of the story, but wont cop to the idea that it
was Doris Day, noting that K.K. is known to
exaggerate. Later, Ken phoned Rob (once
described as stage lighting designer and
would-be actor from Walsall) to come out for
an audition. Heres where it gets confusing, as
some reports have it that Rob was singing
along to the radio, not the television, and that
it was at K.K. and Ians apartment, having
already been called up for an audition.
Back to younger days, Rob was always
superlative in the high school choir, forming
his first band with one of his teachers on
guitar called Thark, in 1966 at the age of 15.
Rob also featured in a band called Abraxis, and
then prog rockers Athens Wood, and he did
indeed work the lights, for the Grand Theater
in Wolverhampton, earning good money and
causing consternation for his parents when he
left to rock out. Also in an act called Lord
Lucifer, Rob had a Francis Barnett motorcycle
with that name painted on the gas tank Rob
later recalled that parents would tuck their
children away when he would drive by. But it
was immediate Priest predecessor Hiroshima
on plate for about a year that was closest
to Halfords future esteemed role. Of note, and
in fact somewhat analogous to the story of
another metal god, Ronnie James Dio, Rob
briefly played bass in the band when their erst-
while bassist Ian Charles was put on waivers.
In any event, a jam session took place at
Holy Joes, and Rob, having been previously
impressed to the point of mesmerized with, in
particular, K.K. Downing, was in the band,
K.K. in turn having been impressed with Robs
harmonizing to radio or TV broadcasts,
as well as his reputation on harmonica. John
Hinch was also part of the deal, and after hours
of discussing music and playing it, both were
offered a job.
Hinch, in relating the story of joining
Priest, recalls Rob as a young chap, screaming
and wailing for all he was worth. I felt that this
guy was the man. He could do the business for
us. So back in those days, there was always this
sort of heavy political situation, backstabbing
the other band, secret talks, and all very cloak
and dagger. So anyway, that was when Rob
joined our band. And that band was called
Hiroshima. And off we went, did quite a
number of gigs up and down the country, and
it wasnt too successful. We werent terribly
happy with this band. It all fizzled out, and Rob
and myself thought we would carry it on, and
we would try to find other guys to join our
band and go from there, still under the name
Hiroshima. So we went to the Birmingham
College of Food, and on the bill was a band
called Judas Priest, and they were horrible. I
mean, they were bad hated them. There was
this strutting lead guitarist, long blond hair, as
I remember it, this sort of very thin bass gui-
tarist standing stock still, and a black
drummer, and I didnt really take any other
notice of them other than that they were bad.
And as chance would have it, Ian Hill came
from the same area as Rob Halford, and dated
Robs sister, and one day me and Rob were over
there, just tinkering around, and in walked Ian
Hill, or Skull as he was affectionately known.
And he mentioned to us that the singer, Al
Atkins, and the drummer, a guy called Congo,
had left the band and they wanted replace-
ments, and would we be interested in going to
audition for Judas Priest? Rob and I discussed
the matter, and felt that we really didnt want to
be associated with this band, and if we did, we
would certainly change the name. And anyway,
we ended up at the rehearsal, went through all
their songs; Rob could sort of sing a song hed
never heard before and just throw words in
that happened to suit. And because the band
had gotten a tour already lined up, as support
to a band called Budgie, Rob and I thought,
well, what have we got to lose, if its going to
put us out there? In time well take this band
over and theyll become our band. Or, if it
doesnt suit, we will carry on. So off we went on
tour, after a few bitty sort of rehearsals. And by
the end of the tour, which was three to four
weeks long, we sort of molded into the Judas
it was chalk and cheese, really
on the billwas a band called
Judas Priest, and they were
horrible. I mean, they were
bad hated them.
Priest situation very nicely. Rob had success-
fully changed it, and from there, Dave Corke, if
Im right, was already in contact via Budgie
with Gull Records, and got David Howells to
come see us at a gig.
Recalls K.K. about Priests friendship with
Cardiff s finest, namely Budgie, They were my
big, big favorite band; I was a real big fan
great band. We used to do thirty-odd date
tours with those boys. And even when we
werent on tour with them . . . I can remember
one night, because we used to live together, me,
and Ian, the bass player, this other school
friend we had who used to get us some gigs,
and two girls, living in a one-bedroom flat. So
there were five of us. Thats where I perfected
the art of silent sex. Or, did I ever perfect it?
One of the girls was my girlfriend. And occa-
sionally, you would get a knock on the door in
the middle of the night, and it would be
Budgie, because they were from Cardiff which
was quite a way south. So when they would be
playing up north, Newcastle or something,
often they would be too knackered to drive the
rest of the way home. Knock on the door,
pouring rain, there would be Burke Shelley
standing there, Guys, can we crash on the floor
for the night? And of course we would do the
same when we were down south. So they
would often be there, and in the morning we
would get up to get the guitars out of the van
and jam a bit.
Rob also acknowledges that many great
things happened for Priest because of Budgie,
additionally citing bassist and singer Burke
Shelley as magic, a cool rock star who
commanded the stage, a performer worth
watching every night.
K.K. Downings first song of record would
be a beauty, Run of the Mill establishing a
levity that would carry the band beyond Rocka
Rolla through to their classic Sad Wings of
Destiny album. Run of the Mill would be
recorded, along with Halford singing the old
Atkins chestnut Whiskey Woman. Halfords
Red Light Lady would be added as a slow
second-movement coda, turning the paste-up
into Victim of Changes, one of the all-time
Priest classics. The demoing of Run of the
Mill with Whiskey Woman would turn into
the Gull Records deal, now and possibly for-
ever a poisoned thorn in the leathered hides of
Priest. Sealing the deal in principle was a
showcase at the Marquee, February 11, 1974,
with Priest in support of Budgie. Although
K.K. figures the label and its leader David
Howells didnt like the bands music, they saw
potential due to the manic crowd reaction on
display that night.
Leaving the U.K. for the first time, the band
logged a few dates in Germany and the Nether-
lands (sleeping in their Mercedes van, despite it
being winter), then back home, then over to
Norway and Denmark (more sleeping in the
van, now a Ford Transit), where a girl couldnt
pronounce Downings first name, coming up
with K.K. instead, which has been his rock n
roll moniker ever since. Earlier in the Halford
era, Priest notched their first extended support
slot, accompanying Budgie on that bands
Never Turn Your Back on a Friend tour through
the summer of 73 and into early 74.
Priest arrived home from their Scandina-
vian sojourn to sign on the dotted line with
Gull on April 16th. We opted to pursue the
deal, recalls Hinch. We came down to
London, to South Malton Street, and went into
the burger bar across the road, and eventually
signed the deal. And grabbed the money
[laughs]. Which, wasnt a huge amount of
money at that time, but from my business
point of view, it was a lot of money. I mean, it
enabled us to get a better PA, all sorts of things.
The band learned that Howells would
prefer they fill out their sound a bit with
another band member, something the guys
were a bit wary of, simply due to the idea of
splitting their slim pickings five ways instead of
four. Howells figured that there were too many
bands out there operating as a power trio with
vocalist, and a keyboard player or even a sax
player was suggested. Rehearsing one of the
bands songs, it became apparent that a second
guitarist would fit the bill best, with drummer
John Hinch figuring the idea came from How-
ells and producer Rodger Bain. Downing was
also quickly on board, liking what Wishbone
Ash had pioneered with their twin guitar-solo
sound, as well as pointing out that live, it
sounded better if during a solo, there could be
a rhythm guitar bed beneath it. Comments
Hinch, I have to say, it did work. Glenn joined
the band, and as soon as Kenny became com-
fortable with him, it improved the music a
great deal; it did fill the sound out. They man-
aged to work out a lot of dual guitar runs, lead
runs, I think, very, very effectively.
it was chalk and cheese, really
We were familiar with Glenn from his
band The Flying Hat Band, recalls Ian Hill,
with respect to Glenn Tiptons fateful arrival.
We had been on the same circuit in Germany.
Rob was with the band by then. It was the
nucleus of the first recording band. We already
had our deal with Gull Records. We were at a
place called Whats Music in Birmingham, and
Glenn walked in, and out of the blue Ken went
and asked him if he wanted to join the band.
We were just standing there agog. After
meeting us and having a couple of pints he said
yes. He brought in another dimension to the
band, and as the clich goes, we have never
looked back since. The only other twin lead at
the time was Wishbone Ash. They were very
lightweight compared to us. It was chalk and
cheese, really. We were one of the first bands to
have two lead guitars in a heavy rock format.
The Flying Hat Band was a power trio all set
to record for Vertigo, however the label figured
the band was too much like Black Sabbath
considerably heavy and doomy, in their eyes,
although hard blues rock would be an apt
descriptor and put the project on ice, even
though the guys were well on their way, having
toured with Deep Purple. The Flying Hat Bands
previous incarnations were Shave and Dry, and
then Merlin. Tiptons early training was actually
on piano (his mothers instrument), not guitar
(his brothers), so some keyboards were sup-
plied to his early bands, as well as lead vocals. Of
course, this all came after his initial course of
study, the plastic banjo at age six! Tipton had
logged five hard years of work in one of
Birminghams notorious factory jobs, seemingly
a rite of passage for a metal man, and had actu-
ally never picked up the guitar until he was 18
years old. He says that as an energetic bloke,
the piano had been a bit too confining and that
one pleasant surprise he had discovered was
how easily chords came to him on the guitar.
Early influences such as B.B. King and Freddie
King led to Jimi Hendrix, and at that point, his
life had changed forever. The Flying Hat Band
included Steve Palmer on drums (brother of
another pretty good drummer, Carl!) and
notably, Mars Cowling on bass, who would
move on to critical acclaim and considerable
fame with Pat Travers.
Speaking of guitar forerunners, K.K., for his
part, says, Ive never really been influenced,
other than in the early days. My two main
influences were Hendrix and Rory Gallagher.
Rory was great; I went to see him many times
with Taste. K.K. has also said that much of his
instruction came from guitar tab books on
bands such as Led Zeppelin and the Beatles.
Essentially self-taught, K.K. began at 16 on an
acoustic he bought for ten pounds before
picking up a used Richenbacher a year later.
K.K. adds that he left home at the tender age of
17 in possession of no more than five or six
chords, long hair, flared jeans and a prayer.
And so Priest was reborn (Tiptons first gig
with the band was May 9, 1974), somewhat
crucially with the help of producer Rodger
Bain, who was house guy at Vertigo, and
helping out with Priest now that the Flying Hat
Band record he was to work on was stopped,
with its lead guitarist and vocalist off to this
new set of guys. Thus far, Rodgers big claim to
fame was that he had produced the first three
Black Sabbath albums, despite rude and crude
tooling, coming up with three productions
very different from each other, but each bull-
dozing in their own brutish manner.
Heavy metal synergy reared its head once
again: an unknown by the name of Rod
Smallwood later Iron Maidens manager
was an 18-month employee of Londons MAM
Agency, and wound up signing to the booking
group Be Bop Deluxe, Cockney Rebel, Golden
Earring and Judas Priest.
We were of course picking up fans, but we
didnt know it at the time, muses Hinch, in the
enviable position of getting to watch Priest
grow from his perch on the drum riser. A few
people here or there that liked us, to a point,
preferred us to Budgie. We came out at the end
of that first tour, which was only a short tour,
but it was successful. So after we had com-
pleted the initial tour, David Howells went
about getting all sorts of work for us. We did
pick up gigs ourselves, local gigs, as it were, but
we really got into a very nice situation of
working virtually every night; I would say on
average we used to work 20 to 25 nights a
month. There was no planning as such, as to
where the gigs were, the routes and that. Liter-
ally one night we could be down in Penzance,
and then up to Cromer, and Links Pavilion, the
next. And then we might be up to Inverness.
And Im not just saying this as a windup; I
mean literally up to Inverness, which was usu-
ally a two-day hike up through the Highlands
and what not. And say, come back down for the
Marquee the next night. It went on month in,
month out.
And though you didnt really realize it at
the time, night in, night out, you are getting
tighter and tighter. The band really began to
gel. All along, you are picking up fans. We had
some pretty dreadful nights with Priest, from
the point of view of audiences. We would sort
of come offstage and say, Lets just pack it in.
Its a complete waste of time. Its not the music
of today. The whole band thought, we are
never going to make it. Sabbath had already
been and done the heavy metal bit, although it
wasnt known as heavy metal in those days.
Having not, at that stage, released an
album, we had no way of gauging how many
people really liked the band. Later we managed
to get on the Reading Festival, which was the
big festival of its day. The first band went
onstage to total abuse. I mean, they were liter-
ally bottled offstage. Things are being thrown
. . . again, because its the early days. There
wasnt any restriction on taking glass bottles
into gigs, so they were literally thrown onstage
[laughs]. And they had to come off. So we were
all sitting in our caravan, our dressing room,
and dreading, I mean, very, very nervous about
going onstage. And everyone would try to put
a brave face on, and we went on, and the place
exploded, rapturous applause, thought we
were wonderful, couldnt go wrong, and we
did, I think, a pretty good set. It went down,
and I really think that that was one of the
major starting points for Judas Priest.
it was chalk and cheese, really
Rocka Rolla
(Gull, September 74)
Side 1
One for the Road
Rocka Rolla
Deep Freeze
Winter Retreat
Side 2
Never Satisfied
Run of the Mill
Dying to Meet You
Caviar and Meths
It used to baffle people
Rocka Rolla
Judas Priests debut album would only
hint at the majesty to come, with little of
the grand religious overtones the band
would adopt one shocking step up the
ladder later with Sad Wings of Destiny.
First with the wrapper, Gull Records
artist John Pasche would spin a rhyme
with Coca-Cola into a cover concept, and
then top it with a logo that would turn
out to be used once and then discarded
like a bottle top. Although the cover
would be admired as an artistic piece, the
band was none too pleased with it. (Mel
Grant would later supply a rote and for-
gettable heavy metal illustration called
The Steel Tsar for a reissue of the record
in 1984.) Flip oer to the back, and the
Judas Priest bassist looks very much like
the Black Sabbath drummer, Bob Hal-
ford is sporting long, blond hair and
Glenn Tipton is looking amusingly dis-
tinguished behind a mustache.
Onto the music, and one found a band
willing to be proggy, heavy, riffy, all sorts of
things, even doomy, but not so concerned with
the logic that makes commercial songs com-
fortable and thus saleable.
Ken and Glenn did the lions share of the
music, says Ian, trying to grapple with the
issue of the bands early influences. But I dont
think there were very many outside influences.
I try not to, because it will show in my bass
lines, and Im sure its the same for K.K. and
Glenn. But we all liked Cream and Ken was a
Hendrix freak you always keep those. But it
was almost a conscious effort not to sound like
anybody else, and it used to baffle people
because they couldnt put a tag on us and say,
Yeah, they sound just like Sabbath or
Zeppelin. Sure, wed go out and buy other
heavy records and listen to them because we
were interested, but it was always separately; it
wasnt like, We better go get this one. You
wouldnt let it influence you.
K.K. gets a bit more specific on the origin of
the bands sound. When people set the prece-
dent . . . like, I have to agree with you, Deep
Purple In Rock is one of the greatest albums
of all time. But growing up in England, there
had to have been another 150, 200 bands who
were equally as influential, from John Mayalls
Bluesbreakers to bands like Cream, Hendrix,
The Who, Rory Gallagher, Free, Blodwyn Pig;
youve got Jethro Tull, Chicken Shack, a lot of
blues bands, Savoy Brown, Foghat, Fleetwood
Mac, great bands like Budgie who are pretty
much unknown now, but whatever . . . they did
some great stuff. They were all great influences,
so if you were going to compete with the likes
of Sabbath or whatever, you damn well better
come up with something pretty good and
unique. Otherwise youre not going to go any-
where. And even if you were good, it was hard
to make any headway. So we decided to come
up with stuff we thought was top quality, to
have quality control over what we put out, and
thats stayed with us to this day.
it was almost a
conscio us effort not to
sound like anybody else.
To catch up, Priest at this point were man-
aged by David Corke and MAM. John Hinch was
the bands drummer, with, curiously, Tipton
providing some synth work as well as backing
vocals on their first album. Rocka Rolla was
recorded late June into July of 1974, and issued
September 6th, on Gull Records. The produc-
tion on the album was in fact handled by
Rodger Bain, with Vic Smith mixing. The band
has always thought the production wasnt the
greatest, with Ian calling it lame, noting that
various remasters and reissues have spruced up
the sound a bit. In this writers opinion, theres
very little wrong with the production, other
than a touch too much intimacy and twee-ness.
Other than that, the bass and the treble and the
placement of the instruments are all more than
acceptable for 1974 it really wouldnt be
until Hell Bent for Leather that the band would
get a production where no complaints what-
soever could be leveled against it. Still, the
tinkering with Rocka Rolla would start as early
as 1981, with the exploitative Hero, Hero com-
pilation receiving remixing and remastering by
original producer Rodger Bain.
Back to 1974, and into the studio (Sparks
and Paul Rodgers were also working there),
Priest found themselves intimidated to work
with the man who produced Black Sabbath.
Whats more, poverty had them sleeping in the
van outside the studio and recording at night
when the rates were down. John Hinch com-
plained about being rushed through his parts,
and the rest of the band were instantly disap-
pointed with the transfer of their aggressive,
loud performances to the relative tepidness of
the final product. In fact, K.K. has said that
Rodger Bain had fallen asleep on the couch
after having worked 36 hours straight. He then
had to pop up and put the album straight to
vinyl, with most of his faculties still fogged.
Rob would come up with his ideas on a
cassette,explains Hinch, about the songwriting
process, and we would listen to them in the
van. Or we would listen to them down at Holy
Joes, the rehearsal room we used to go to. And
an attempt would be made to do something
with the song. Things would change, of course;
words would change, the music in fact would
change. The beat would be created to it. So we
it used to baffle people
all had a big contribution, to actually construct
a song I wouldnt say write the song in
our own way, including Ian on the bass and
myself on drums. We could each totally turn a
song, as we felt. We could direct its pace, its
force, its whatever. We would then put it into
the set, maybe have to drop one of the earlier
songs, or shorten them, and then find out what
the reaction was. Rob had free license to change
the words as and when he felt, even at the gig. I
mean, he would just go rambling off into a
complete verse we had never, ever heard before.
He was very good at ad-libbing. If we liked
or if he liked what had changed, it would
tend to stick. Although Al wasnt with the band,
the songs he wrote for Mark I or Mark II Judas
Priest are there on the first album, Rocka Rolla,
and they were good songs they didnt get
dropped because he wasnt with the band.
Which is usually the case. If that would have
been the situation, Al Atkins wouldve dis-
appeared into obscurity. From what I can
gather, he is still writing songs, and pretty good
songs at that. And good luck to you.
So off we went into the studio, continues
Hinch. And I think we recorded the album
over a three-week period. We went to Island
Studios, Trident Studios and Olympic Studios.
We met the Stones at Olympic Studios, I think
it was, and Supertramp in Trident Studios. So
yes, we were really excited; we were happening.
Rodger, who had been to many rehearsals up in
Birmingham to format the songs, was there to
guide us. We were totally into Rodger, because
Rodger had had a history of successes with
bands such as Black Sabbath. So we felt that he
was the right guy to produce the album. I
wouldnt say that Priest was trying to go down
the line of Black Sabbath. The songs were more
sensitive, I would say, and a lot quieter in parts.
Or put it this way, the set was interspersed with
pleasant songs . . . Run of the Mill, Dreamer
Deceiver, that sort of thing.
As it would turn out, Rocka Rolla opens
with One for the Road, a naff lyric about all
of us appreciating music together floating atop
a complex but contemplative riff that would
have held its own on Sad Wings of Destiny,
lyrics of this world and not the other, notwith-
standing. The chorus possesses its own upper
crust integrity on this fitting opener to the
recorded canon of the Priest, setting a charted
course toward the relentless invention of Priest
albums not three years away.
The title track is next, and its a hard-
working, hard-rocking charmer, easily the
albums sing-along anthem lyrically, the
song is a colorful, humorous, lighthearted look
at a man-eater of a woman. Halford is ever the
thespian, shaping his lines (even adding a bit of
harmonica scrubbed off on select future
remixes) while K.K. and Glenn give us their
first highly tuneful twin lead duel, along with a
Celtic melody straight out of early Thin Lizzy.
he would just go
rambling off into a
complete verse we had
never, ever heard before.
Then Priest get progressive on us, turning in
a four-parter later dubbed the Winter Suite, or
less popularly, the Judas Priest opus. This collec-
tion of movements would cause no end of
distress to CD reissuers who would variously
leave the songs as one block, or assign partitions
correctly or incorrectly. In any event, the songs
proper are Winter, Deep Freeze, Winter
Retreat and Cheater, with only the latter
leaping out as a semi-classic, its gallop posi-
tioning this technical rocker as, again,
something that could have easily fit the
trundling bluster of the bands sophomore
album. Comments Al Atkins, credited with
some of the songwriting on the album, I wrote
the lyrics to Winter in 1969 on a tour of
Scotland, when the first Judas Priest got stuck
up a mountain in the snow in the middle of
winter. God it was cold, and we were all penni-
less. Cheater doesnt have much to do with
Atkins contemplative reflections on winters
chill of the soul, but nonetheless, it kind of
breaks the listener out of its reverie. In essence,
the fairly uneventful preceding bits serve as a
dramatic introduction to this modern metal
classic. Hinch, in fact, grooves forcefully on this
one, with Halford providing spirited harmonica
work with a jamming blues band vibe. Essen-
tially, the grouping of Cheater with the suite is
now considered by the band to be an error.
Still, the Winter Suite is an admirable piece
of work, with the opening track, Winter, cap-
turing very much a Sabbath vibe, huge
mournful guitars oozing all over simple but
effective fills from Hinch. Deep Freeze recalls
Sabbaths FX and precedes Rushs Didacts
and Narpets by a year. In fact, the whole 9:40
stride of the piece predicts the epic constructs
Rush would adopt, with Winter Retreat
sounding uncannily close melodically to pas-
sages from both sides of Rushs 2112.
On to side two and another leaden inter-
locutor on par with Cheater and One for the
Road emerges. Never Satisfied feels in fact
like a cross between the two. It is a track self-
sufficient and powerful, yet obtuse and bluesy,
laced with intelligent riffs warmly recorded
atop full-bodied bass and a square-ish but not
unpleasant drum sound. Says Atkins, I wrote
this song about greed and changes in life and
will we ever be satisfied at all? K.K. wrote some
it used to baffle people
extra lyrics at the end Theres nowhere left
to go / This could be our last show. I dont
know what he meant by that, but he was cred-
ited for it, for what it was worth. The bubbly,
volcanic, iconic riffing of Glenn and K.K. can
be heard in its impressive infancy here, this
being a track befitting the brooding, medieval
totality of Sad Wings with nary a dust-off
needed, save perhaps for flashier lyrics. The
songs closing sequence features an unwinding
slowdown along with deflating Sabbatharian
melodic trademarks, punctuated finally with a
Halford wail that predicts the much better
Victim of Changes crescendo to come on the
bands next groundbreaking record.
Come Run of the Mill Rob finds some-
thing to enthuse about after all these years,
claiming that the You cant go on, cant go on
bit is of a range he hasnt been able to hit for
heavy metal ages. Still, the track is all but for-
gotten today, serving to remind us of a much
more nave and in fact, adventurous time in
rock n roll history. The song is a dark, despon-
dent ballad with huge Sabbath chords breaking
the contemplation before a return to the bluesy
stealth of the pre-Rush progressive mid-rock
tiptoeing through the verse. Much of the
middle of this 8:30 meander is dedicated to
deft and jazzy jamming by the guitarists over a
classy groove from Hill and Hinch. Toward the
end, the song breaks open for an impassioned
melodic close with Rob, as mentioned, singing
high, but back in the mix.
Dying to Meet You is often paired with
Run of the Mill as a track largely forgotten,
but also crucial to the psychological effect of
Rocka Rolla as somewhat uneasy and malevo-
lent, yet progressive and almost esoteric and
beyond discernible influence. The track in fact
contains the most ambitious lyric of the
album, challenged only by the hugely epic
Mother Sun, partially worked up but never
recorded proper for this album or any other.
Once again, the band shoots directly for a
Sabbath vibe on the heavy bits, but then strums
electric and stormy yet folky for the softer
passages. A pleasant surprise is tucked into the
back half of the track. Amusingly, like the
Winter Suite on side one, a classy, modern
rocker, seemingly self-contained, explodes
from nowhere. This time, however, it is simply
the second half of Dying to Meet You no
extra naming required with the band
rocking like Nazareth or again Thin Lizzy, cap-
turing the metal potential of both the hard
rock gallop and certain strains of Celtic.
Caviar and Meths is about two people of
the same age growing up into two different
directions, one wealthy, one not, says Atkins
about the albums closer. However, the track was
rendered for the record in instrumental form.
One must again bring up Tony Iommi, for this
two-minute bit of fluff could very easily have fit
it used to baffle people
I was the oldest member
of the band, and if anyone
stepped out of line, I would
just threaten to beat them up.
on Master of Reality instead of that records
Orchid or Embryo or even as an intro to
Solitude it is dead Sabbatharian in every
imaginable way. Atkins fairly extensive original
lyrics were not used, only emerging in 1988 on
his Heavy Thoughts solo album, and then on his
Victim of Changes record in 1994. The records
a documentation of the early years of Priest, 69
to 73, said Al about working up the full-blown
Caviar and Meths, plus others, adding a little
reminiscing of his Priest days. It was strange for
me to record songs I wrote over 20 years ago,
but people often asked me about that material
and I enjoyed doing it. It sounds like a 70s
metal album! I dont think the band was aware
of how good those songs were. I think Ive
proven that the early songs can be recorded now
and they still sound great.
Priest were all great rock n roll guys, con-
tinues Atkins, no different than anybody else at
the time. I was the oldest member of the band,
and if anyone stepped out of line, I would just
threaten to beat them up, which I only had to
do once. So we all got on very well. They were
all pretty good players early on. I know Ian Hill
comes from good stock. His dad was a bass
player in a jazz band, unfortunately dying
young. In 69, the band had none of the mem-
bers who are there now, but in 70 the lineup
solidified, although we went through three
drummers from John Ellis and Chris Campbell
to Alan Moore, who played on Sad Wings. Last
I heard from him, he was driving a tour truck
around America for the Rolling Stones. Drum-
mers are a breed of their own.
And so Priest with a certain metal god
replacing Al hit the road in late 74, in sup-
port of their proud first baby, notable set
inclusion for the band being Mother Natures
Son, the hardened epic/power ballad from the
Atkins era, featuring both Glenn and Rob on
vocals. Unsurprisingly, the Rocka Rolla tour
would be little more than a cold and rainy pub
crawl around England, the band staying on the
road for most of September and October, while
logging a couple of dates in November and
December. Shockingly, barely a year and a half
down the trail, this long-suffering bar band
would issue one of the greatest heavy metal
albums of all time.
it used to baffle people
Sad Wings of Destiny
(Gull, March 76)
Side 1
Victim of Changes
The Ripper
Dreamer Deceiver
Side 2
Island of Domination
God will crucify you!
Dont see this band!
Sad Wings of Destiny
Sad Wings of Destiny was an incredible
leap forward for the ill-reputed world of
heavy metal, quite possibly the first record
to make a real creative difference since
Deep Purples In Rock six years earlier.
Rodger Bain did the first one and
obviously we didnt use him again,
explains Ian Hill. We went with Max
West and Jeffery Calvert. They were
riding high at the time on the pop charts
in England. They had done a pop song
pretending to be Jamaicans. The song
was called I Want to Go to Barbados and
the band was called Typically Tropical.
Everybody thought they were black soul
artists, and of course they are not. One is
Welsh and the other is a London Jewish
guy [laughs]. They were great in the
studio and we used them as the produc-
tion team. The difference is noticeable to
say the least.
Sad Wings of Destiny was recorded at the
venerable Rockfield Studio in Wales, home of
mates Budgie, and then mixed at Morgan, in
London. A future production star by the name
of Chris Tsangarides was one of the engineers
on the session. Simultaneously at Morgan,
UFO was working on No Heavy Petting, with
K.K. also revealing that progster Dave
Greenslade had asked him by to play on his
album. Sabbath were working close by as well,
on what was to be Technical Ecstasy.
I wasnt in awe at them; it was just what
they did, says Chris, who began the session as
tape operator and rose to engineer through
chance. Id seen them at gigs and I was really
pleased to be working with them. Like I said,
there I was working at the studio, and I was
really pleased because I loved their sound.
Basically they were rather large fans of Queen
at the time, and Queen had huge productions
at the time and what have you. Of course, we
had nowhere near the budget to do what
Queen could achieve, nor the type of studio.
Nonetheless, that was the goalpost and thats
what we tried to do. But it was them, really. It
was their vision, I suppose.
Asked about Calvert, credited as producer
along with West, Chris explains that basically,
Jeffrey had to leave the session because he
became really ill, and thats how I sort of
managed to be promoted [laughs] into engi-
neer. And Jeffrey was a pop guy. He had a hit
single at the time with that Typically Tropical
song, this funny, sort of reggae pop song. It was
a massive hit for the company, and so there was
a huge budget for him and his partner Max
West to produce Judas Priest, because they
were on the same label. I mean, they were good
technical people. They knew how things
should be recorded, but werent into rock or
metal to any stretch of the imagination, so it
was a very odd pairing, if you think about it.
But whatever they had, whatever input they
might have had collectively, we all managed to
somehow piece together what has become a bit
of a classic, I suppose.
Most fans and critics, as well as the band
themselves, consider this to be the record on
which Judas Priest discovered their sound,
located their special purpose in life, came into
their own. I think we all did, agrees Hill. The
band became more prolific; it was a learning
curve. We were all getting more professional. It
shows to a huge degree on the second album. It
wasnt just the production, it was the perform-
ances themselves too.
The Sad Wings album cover depicts in a glo-
rious illustration topped with religious-fonted
text, a fallen angel, Fallen Angel in fact being
the title of the piece. That was done by a guy
named Patrick Woodroffe, says Hill. It was
commissioned for that album. The head of
Gull Records actually has the painting on the
wall of his office. It is a classic album cover
one of the all-time classics.
Woodroffe (born 1940 in West Yorkshire,
England; living in Cornwall since 1964) cut his
teeth doing approximately 90 book covers in
the 70s. His other notable rock n roll clients
include Pallas, in 1983, with covers for Ross, the
Strawbs and Greenslade preceding his Priest
work, issued in 74, 74 and 75 respectively.
Woodroffes ebullient Sad Wings cover would
be reinforced and supported by a back cover
shot of Rob Halford (theyre still trying to get
his name right on this one hes calling him-
self Robert) in a sort of Jesus Christ pose.
The albums song titles would be rendered in
the same substantial gothic font to complete the
gravitas of the visual presentation. John Pasche
at Gull Graphics was art director on the cover
(the facelift of the bands 1972 logo came from
him as well), with much of the concept coming
from agent Neil French, who understood that
the band wanted to present themselves as dra-
matic. The commissioning of Woodroffe was at
the behest of label head David Howells, who,
Patrick recalls, was the first person he had ever
seen use a mobile phone.
Also on the cover, around the angels neck,
is a symbol adopted by the band, referred to by
the guys as the devils pitchfork, or more
politically correct, the devils cross, as if the
milder descriptor would discourage sanctimo-
nious detractors.
We cant pat ourselves on the back and say
we knew what we were doing, says Tipton,
amused at the accolades heaped upon the band
far too many years after the creation of Sad
Wings. We just sat down . . . theres a natural
formula in the band and it just works, you
know? And it just turns classic stuff out. And I
god will crucify you! dont see this band!
We were all getting more
professional. It shows
to a huge degree on the
second album. It wasnt
just the production,
it was the performances
themselves too.
dont mean that in an immodest way. Classic
Priest . . . let me put it that way: its the way we
write and perform as five individuals. And
were just fortunate that that occurs. Rob
obviously dealt with most of the lyrics. I think
if you go back through our songs, youll see
that the titles are actually heavier than the
lyrical content. Its a different sentiment in
there than people think. But you tend to get
tarred with the same brush. We used to get
people outside the gigs with placards, saying,
God will crucify you! Dont see this band!
Dont go in! And its like, well, what have we
done? Our lyrics have never been about bad
things its just a turn of phrase.
Musically, weve always been very versa-
tile, adds Ian, in response to comments from
Rob that he had seen Queen as an inspiration.
Weve covered a lot of ground in 25 years.
Weve done ballads that will make you weep
and weve done stuff that would make you crap
yourself, and everything in between. So there
have been no boundaries from a musical point
of view.
A lack of boundaries was important to the
band right from the start, but by the time they
had finished this monumental second album,
they had realized that too many compromises
had been made on Rocka Rolla, and that the
bands influences had been worn too promi-
nently on their sleeves. The guys also gained
confidence and piped up more with respect to
production differences. Over the years, few
complaints from the guys have been leveled at
Sad Wings on the production front, with Hill
We used to get people
outside the gigs with
placards, saying,
God will crucify you!
Dont see this band!
Dont go in!
going so far as to say that the sound here,
versus that of Rocka Rolla, was a hundred
times better. In this writers opinion, the
sound is marginally better, with both being
quite good, if not at the high end of high
fidelity for the age Dark Side of the Moon
and Wish You Were Here had been out, to name
a couple, and in the hard rock realm, Aero-
smiths Rocks is a 1976 album and it sounds
fantastic. Still, the band absolutely slags Rocka
Rolla, with Halford, as far back as 1976, joking
about starting a campaign to have fans burn
their copy of the album definitely a career-
limiting move when youve only got two
albums to your name and no money!
I think we really had our own sound by
then, and we just got on and did it, continues
Ian, along the same train of thought. The first
album, we had a tiny budget and the second
album we did as well. I mean, we were on the
night shift. We would work from dusk til dawn
because thats where the cheapest hours in the
studio were [laughs]. We would sleep outside
in the van during the day, and that was the
scene that was going on those two albums. But
the major difference on the second album is
that the production was much, much better.
Rocka Rolla, the material was fine, there was
nothing wrong with that, it was just poorly put
down. It was funny because Rodger Bain, he
had just come off . . . producing Black Sabbath,
and we thought, Oh god, were onto a winner
here! But it just didnt sound good. It just
didnt come across at all no dynamics,
nothing. Thats another one that is ripe for
remastering I suppose, but we dont get along
that well with Gull. Maybe theyve done it
already; we never get to know. Weve washed
our hands of each other. They were looking
upon us as their meal ticket. I think they were
hoping that we were going to make the record
company big rather than the other way
around. And they did try hard. You cant knock
the effort that they did put in, but they just
didnt have the financial clout to make it
happen. When you have to record overnight
[laughs] . . . I mean, youre young and you just
do it because you want your album up there on
the shelf. But I think when you think back with
what you put up with, I dont think people
would do it today [laughs].
I dont believe there are any musicians who
werent playing other peoples stuff when they
were just starting out, said Glenn Tipton just
after the release of Sad Wings. On one hand,
you need lots of exercise, I mean both musical
and onstage, and on the other hand you also
have to make a living. That, at that time, was
nothing but reproducing and if you can do
both of them well enough, to a certain extent,
you can both accumulate touring experience
and work on your abilities. This drags on for a
while until you suddenly realize, Now Ive
god will crucify you! dont see this band!
Suddenly youre not content
with what youre doing anymore,
you want to do your own thing,
but you arent famous enough to
make a living out of it.
made it far enough to be able to purely express
what I want and think. I mean, thats also the
actual turning point in the life of a rock musi-
cian. Suddenly youre not content with what
youre doing anymore, you want to do your
own thing, but you arent famous enough to
make a living out of it. Even with our LPs you
can see the exact same problem. Our first LP,
Rocka Rolla, still shows our indecision very
clearly. But the results, not very well seen
according to sales, were positive, and gave us
the strength and will to do it exactly the way we
want it now, on our second LP. This is our own
individual music, it carries our stamp, and
there are no more compromises. People may
like us or not it doesnt matter to us any-
Sad Wings of Destiny, issued March 23,
1976, opens eerily with mysterious, classical-
shackled twin leads that soon crash into a
torrent of malevolent power chords. What
emerges is an instant Priest classic. Victim of
Changes started life as Whiskey Woman,
explains Ian. It was written by Ken and Alan
Atkins originally, the original vocalist for the
band, who left. It was sort of put on the back-
burner for the first album and it ended up
being put on Sad Wings in a very, very
revamped way. Robert put some new lyrics to
it, and Glenn got involved and worked closely
with Ken and changed the rhythm and the
format of the song. And that one is evergreen;
that is a song we could not drop [laughs]. Its
one of those songs that we would get lynched if
we dropped it. Its one of the all-time classic
songs. Its got everything the rock, the
melody its got two great lead breaks. Its
what Priest were and are known for really, the
light and shade, the heaviness, the aggression,
and its all summed up in that one song, really.
Adds Atkins, Whiskey Woman was about
another down-and-out alcoholic who lost her
man to another woman because of her
drinking habit. I got the idea for the music
when listening to Led Zeps Black Dog song,
with Robert Plant singing a passage on his own
without music, and then a big riff coming in.
Rob Halford then put one of his slow songs on
the end called Red Light Lady and the band
retitled it Victim of Changes. What a track! As
Ive often said, I was the main writer in the
band in the beginning, but things get kicked
around over the years and lyrics are added, but
as long as everyones happy with the outcome,
thats all that matters.
Victim of Changes indeed contains every-
People may like us or not
it doesnt matter
to us anymore!
thing Hill alludes to. Priest is still somewhat
Sabbath-steeped in their menacing riff-
writing, but with the shifts in mood, the Black
Dog stop/start structure, and the addition of
Robs song to the back section (actually a ves-
tige from his pre-Priest band, Hiroshima), this
is an involved stormer of a track.
Victim of Changes was the first song I
ever heard by Priest and it blew me off my
socks, says Sully from Godsmack, who in 2006
would steal the VH1 Rock Honors show with a
scorching medley of Priest classics. It was
amazing. It was just so heavy and powerful and
. . . fuck man, I was a huge Priest fan after that.
I always thought they had just a little bit more
edge than Maiden did and were a little tougher
sounding kick-ass, great band. I was more
into Priest than I was Maiden. I went and saw
Priest a number of times and it was a great
show. Those two are like McDonalds and
Burger King, you know?
Added Sully on the Rock Honors concert,
We did it because its nice to pay homage to
our mentors. We didnt even know we could do
it. Thats not the kind of vocalist I am; I dont
have that kind of range. So I had to bob and
weave around all the high notes. But we got to
meet the guys, and they were just so thrilled
that we were doing it, and they were very com-
plimentary to us and it was very surreal to
be around them and hear them talk about us.
Sad Wings was probably the most influen-
tial, adds Tommy Victor of Prong and
Ministry fame, but I didnt get into them on
that record. I missed that; I was too young.
When Sin After Sin came out, and then Stained
Class . . . thats totally one of my favorite
records. Thats why we got Dodson to do the
first two Prong major label releases, because he
worked with them. That to me was enough for
any credentials.
The earlier song, Whiskey Woman, wed
been playing from day one, recalls Hinch. I
mean, that was the demo that theyd heard, and
several other companies. Whiskey Woman
and Run of the Mill. And Whiskey Woman is
a powerful, powerful song. Ive still got the
demos, very strong. But it wasnt recorded on
the Rocka Rolla album; it was sort of held back.
It was, of course, changed and joined onto
Victim of Changes. Because it was the first
number of the set, it was the key song to our
whole being, almost, with the dual guitars. Ken
and Glenn would start off [sings it], and then
it would come in really, really powerful and off
we would go. It would always go down; a really
good opener for us.
Next up on Sad Wings is The Ripper,
which opens Queen-like in the extreme, fan-
tastic with the vocal acrobatics, the twin lead,
the machine gun riffing. Once the song pro-
gresses, the band settles into a grinding groove,
punctuated by fastback bits laced with elegant
twin leads of a classical nature. Returned
drummer Alan Moore is a big part of this
god will crucify you! dont see this band!
Its what Priest were and are
known for really, the light
and shade, the heaviness,
the aggression, and its all
summed up in that one song,
songs thrust and parry, Moore coming back to
the band in October of 75 after a spell away
with Sundance, with which he managed to
record an album.
Comments Tipton on the drummer
muddle, Well, John . . . when I joined the
band, John was the first drummer in the band,
and I think both John and Alan Moore, really,
had bad luck in this instance. We got manage-
ment interested in the band, or record
companies, and they got voted out. And I
think, particularly in Alan Moores case
[between Sad Wings and its follow-up, Sin After
Sin], it was unfair, but we had no choice at the
time. If we were going to get signed, we had to
get a new drummer or we werent going to get
signed. And we were living, really, in the face of
poverty at the time, where we couldnt even
really afford petrol to go in the van. And some
of these decisions are made for you, and its
unfair on individuals, but thats life. It couldve
been me, it could have been anyone. Youre
forced to go with it. With John, there were
some personality problems. He didnt really see
eye-to-eye with certain people in the band; Im
not going to say who. So it stemmed from that,
unfortunately. But Im not criticizing anybody,
you understand.
For his part, Hinch claims he left the band
after he had his thumb bitten in a bar fight
between he and Glenn on one side, and a
number of the patrons on the other. K.K. had
claimed they only kept Hinch around because
he had a van, and Glenn was known to dis-
parage Hinchs drumming skills. Hinch went on
to a career in artist management, dealing with
the likes of Uli Jon Roth, Ulis brother Zeno
Roth, and NWOBHM upstarts Jameson Raid.
Of note, Tipton collars The Ripper when
asked about Priest tracks he is most proud of,
among those in which he had a bigger than
usual hand in creating. Its a very Priest-like
song, that I put pen to paper with. Yes, I would
declare that one. Which is a bit odd though,
because I never got any royalties for that,
because Gull Records owns it [laughs].
But it is rare that Glenn will cop to being
chief songsmith on anything. Its very difficult
to say. I mean, I wouldnt ever state and claim
the responsibility for a Priest classic, because
even if its only a small part of the song that
you have, that you contribute, the magic is in
myself and K.K. and Rob getting together. And
that can spark up a simple idea and make it
into a great song. So I would never claim any of
the magic for any particular song, because
everybody contributes. And when we walk into
a room, we never know quite the way its going
to go. Its that magic formula, really, that spark,
the energy working off each other, the room
suddenly lighting up, that makes Priest hit as a
songwriting team.
Tiptons The Ripper was launched as a
single, backed with Island of Domination, in
March of 76, simultaneous with the release of
the full album. Much happens within the
tracks short timeframe, its Queen-like surges
making for a smart, event-rich track that
indeed captures the sense and sensibility of the
Victorian era in which the actual Jack the
Ripper performed his heinous deeds.
Moving on, Deceiver is the title part to
Dreamer Deceiver, says Hill of the two-fer
that comprises the second half of the albums
first side. Dreamer is a ballad, and the latter
part of it, where Ken does a lead guitar solo, is
very much up-tempo. So we just called it
Deceiver. I just got on my bass parts and
music bits, and the lyrics were by Rob.
Dreamer Deceiver features Rob singing
mostly in a low croon, with a few high bits as a
sort of break. Backward cymbal swishes recall
Sabbath, while a bit of acoustic soloing spruces
up the track. Again, the bands Queen influ-
ence can be heard in Robs singing at the intro,
as well as in the fact that when Priest played
lightly, there was almost always a renaissance
or medieval tone to the affair. This is not one
of mine, clarifies Atkins. I think there was a
riff of mine in there somewhere which I am
credited to, again, for what its worth. I love this
song though, and have just recorded it on my
new album. On the original LP, all of side one
is credited to Downing/Halford/Tipton/Atkins,
save for The Ripper, which gets a Tipton
credit exclusively. On subsequent reissues,
Atkins credit is dropped from Dreamer
Deceiver and Deceiver.
Deceiver might be considered the bands
first recorded instance of truly modern tech-
nical proto-speed metal. Sure, the tempo is only
brisk perhaps, but theres an insistent, no-
compromise chug to the riff, as well as a
god will crucify you! dont see this band!
gorgeous, recurring coda to it. The soloing is also
wild, as is the hugely heavy and sinister break,
oer which Rob hits a pile of super high notes.
The track ends with a shudder and a lurch,
after which Iommi-like acoustic wake music
sends the song off on a boat down the river.
Drummer Hinch knows quality when he
hears it. I could always get very emotionally
involved with Dreamer Deceiver. Glenn did
what I consider to be this phenomenal lead
break. I used to love that song. I mean, some
nights it would choke me up. It was that good.
Halford wrote songs for Halford, con-
tinues Hinch. He believed in the songs that he
wrote. As can be seen on the first two albums,
those songs, by and large, are quite meaningful
if you listen to the words. And you know, they
do come from a sensitive person. Is this the dif-
ference between a star and just another
performer? Despite his screaming, wailing
voice, he had a powerful voice and he did have
a presence onstage he had star quality; that
is undoubtable. He could write songs, and he
had this ability to ad-lib in the song and just
come out with words that actually did make
sense. I mean, from the soul, from the heart.
Of note, in April of 1975, nearly a year
before the release of Sad Wings, Priest had
gotten themselves on The Old Grey Whistle
Test, playing Rocka Rolla and the then-
unreleased Dreamer Deceiver/Deceiver
package. This appearance featured John Hinch
still as the drummer for the band, as well as a
battle with the producers over how loud the
band was allowed to go. Tipton can be heard
prominently, if not all that accurately, on
backup vocals; K.K. is wearing his big floppy
white hat and an exploded abomination of a
shirt; Rob looks thin and frail in a pink satin
top and long, blond hair as he looks the camera
straight in the eye and makes heavy metal his-
tory (more history would be in the offing as
the band got themselves a slot at the Reading
Festival four months later).
Oh, its got to be the early Old Grey
Whistle Test things from the 70s, laughs Ian,
asked to name the funniest of the bands video
experiences over the years. The dress alone is
hysterical. We went through many, shall we
say, contemporary images [laughs]. The
leather and studs really came about British
Steel time, about 1980. Before then, it was a
whole catalog of different looks and styles,
satins . . . it was cool at the time, believe me. I
know it doesnt look like it, but it was cool at
the time, high-heeled boots and all the rest of
it. We were individuals. There wasnt any real
coherent plan. We didnt sit down and say,
This is the image we have to portray. We just
got on with our own images. It wasnt until the
leather came along, when it sort of fit perfectly
with what we were trying to do. The leather
and studs and heavy metal were really made
for one another. But we were shocked when we
saw the earlier tapes recently again, what
people were wearing. But it was fine for the
time; it didnt look out of place. It obviously
looks dated now, but at the time it was very
contemporary [laughs].
Its that magic formula, really,
that spark, the energy working
off each other, the room suddenly
lighting up, that makes Priest
hit as a songwriting team.
Top of the Pops, everyone used to mime on
there, answers Ian, asked to distinguish
between the two venerable British music shows.
Basically because there were so many acts on
it, it would have been logistically impossible to
have everyone playing live. Youd spend a week
trying to record it. But Old Grey Whistle Test
was live. You would set up in the afternoon, do
soundchecks. And I think there were only a
couple of bands on. It wasnt too much of a
nightmare getting in there with changeovers.
But for Top of the Pops and miming, there are
pads put on the drums and you use plastic
cymbals. And then there was a playback, not
too loud. We were never really good at miming,
I must admit. We were a live band and we hated
doing it. It was against our philosophy.
In a situation reminiscent of Rocka Rollas
confused partitioning, some copies of Sad
Wings second side start right in with Tyrant,
while others sport a two minute baroque-ish
instrumental piece called Prelude incon-
sequential and, frankly, illogical as an
introduction, given that Tyrant starts simply
with a riff, one unrelated in any way to what
came before.
Like Victim of Changes, Tyrant, again, is a
very inventive and intense song, muses Hill.
Its a clever song with a lot of parts to it, a very
involving track with different breaks and dif-
ferent tempos in it. Tyrant indeed is the
albums second full-bodied epic, twin leads
lacing the song with importance, Halford spit-
ting out the songs timeless message with
military precision, the whole thing feeling
hugely important again, medieval, given the
biblical meter of the lyric phrasing. Says Rob, I
love Tyrant simply because of its class and style
and approach in its lyrics. Its an area that I want
to re-explore actually. It just talks about the fact
that in the world there are these tyrannical fig-
ures in life that control and terrorize people. Its
a combination of fantasy and reality, but I love
the musical composition because its a real roller
coaster. There are twists and turns, and a lot of
information and a lot of musical directions hap-
pening within that one moment.
I wouldnt say that theres no fantasy at all
in our lyrics, said Rob, on the press trail for
the record in the fall of 1976. Our lyrics are
firmly bound to the present, but theres still a
certain freedom in their organization which
enables the listeners to include their own fan-
god will crucify you! dont see this band!
I used to love that song. I mean,
some nights it would choke
me up. It was that good.
tasy, their own experience, their environment.
For example, I wrote a song with the title
Tyrant. In this piece, I expressed my aversion
towards any form of control, that is very con-
crete, but still the lyrics are chosen in such a
way that the listener is able to find his own
frustrations of this problem interpreted within
this framework.
Continues Rob, in the same interview, Gen-
erally speaking, we dont care what we do to
people, I mean, which motivations we release in
them. We come onstage to play high energy
rock, and if people like it, then I dont give a shit
what they do afterwards. Whether they go and
buy guitars, or knock each others heads in on
the way home, or whatever it is that they do.
Weve done our music, with all the power and
energy we have, and thats it! We also dont give
a shit whether we become rich and famous
through our music. Obviously, you need
money in order to survive, but well never
change our music [just] because we could earn
this or that much more money. What we write,
and what we play, is genuine and authentic, and
it pleases us to play rock music.
Whether we can succeed or not depends
on so many factors which dont have anything
to do with music at all, explained Rob. But we
try, and if it works good; if not, then at least
I can say to myself that Ive tried. But Im con-
fident that well make it! Why do I believe that
well make it? Its very simple to explain. As
long as there are cities like Birmingham, cities
without room for an idyll, as long as the chil-
dren of these cities have to grow up between
those large buildings and dirty roads, without
any place for real development, it also gives
birth to frustrations, which rock or, in
former times, rock n roll lets out into the
open, and represents their discharge. We grew
up in Birmingham, and our childhood wasnt
any different from that, same as any childhood
in any other industrial city with an insane
population density. And the music we make
today is nothing but the expression of these
feelings and frustrations. Its like that in any
form of personal self-manifestation; whether
youre a painter, a musician or a writer, your
whole background obviously shines through.
Its obvious that the imprinting you get from
your family, your friends, your whole environ-
ment, gets a focus in your work. Its an
interpretation of what you are aggressive,
gentle, sentimental or whatever. I can explain
very well who we are. Most importantly, were
not a band like Kiss. We put on a good show,
but our music comes first. When were onstage
we physically express who we are. With bands
such as Kiss the music is secondary, the show is
more important for them: I dont want that
that would be bad. When were onstage, every-
thing we do is genuine; nothing is rehearsed,
apart from the music. The physical tension
which comes from standing up there and
We were a live band and
we hated doing it. It was
against our philosophy.
doing something that the people want and feel,
is so big that it makes everything else dis-
appear. Youre standing there upon the stage
and the audience is staring at you; no matter if
its 50 or 10,000 people, the energy, the tension,
which is released in us is just uncontrollable.
Ian demurs at any Sabbath comparisons
leveled at the band (even if outsiders might see
Sabbath as the main source of the Priest sound,
if one must be offered), I dont think so, no.
Although I personally admired Sabbath very
highly, I dont think I own one of their albums,
to be honest. I was more into the progressive
side of things like Cream.
I dont think so, not really, says Ian,
pressed on whether there was a sense of com-
petition between Priest and Sabbath. They
had already made their mark. We just missed
that boat. They were the first wave of metal
bands and we came on just afterwards. There
was never any rivalry. We didnt want to sound
like them and they didnt want to sound like
us. We didnt want to sound like anybody else.
We just wanted to get on with our own thing
and do it the best we could.
If you ever wondered why Ian, who does
play guitar and composes, hasnt wound up
writing for Priest, he explains, I do write, but
not really. I have some ideas that, from time to
time, I stick down on tape. Who knows? One
day I should be doing a solo album, I would
imagine, when I get a little time on my hands.
Theres no reason why not. And singing, no
[laughs]. Its one of those things. I can stand up
there and play bass to thousands and thou-
sands of people but you put me in front of a
microphone and I freeze. Im just one of those
people that cant put myself across. Like wed-
dings and things like that, a best man doing a
speech, Im petrified. But Ill stand up there
and do a rendition of one of the bass lines if
they like, no problem [laughs].
Tyrant might be considered the bands
sequentially second composition of a sort of
metal modernity, with follow-up Genocide
most definitely fitting the bill as well, Priest
hitting its stride with a succession of smart,
slashing riffs. Whats more, the song coughs
up the title to the next album, Rob speaking,
like Moses on the mount, the words sin after
sin. Of note, Halford to this point has turned
in a barnstormer of a vocal performance,
through six tracks establishing himself as a
new form of vocal technician, the prototype
for countless power metal practitioners in the
years to come.
Comments Halford, Once again, Genocide
carries for me the same types of feeling as
god will crucify you! dont see this band!
Tyrant in that the language is quite strong and
graphic, and Id like to feel that some of the
things that Ive done with my lyrics is to be
provocative and somewhat controversial and to
stimulate people. When theyre listening to
these things, I want them to see what Im trying
to express. I leave the listener up to their own
choice of what they wish to do with them. Thats
one of the great things I love about the power of
music, that you can either take it in and enjoy it,
or take it to a deeper level. But again, Genocide
has a very strong story to tell. Some of the great
unfortunate moments in history have come
from genocidal situations. But again, its great,
too, because of the complexity of the song and
the journey that it takes you on.
It seems that this sort of lyrical philosophy
was firmly in mind as a bit of an overarching
concept when the album was being put
together. Glenn and Rob both spoke at the
time about how kids should get out and have
themselves a good time, but also realize that
the world is about to go through some cata-
strophic changes. Both Tipton and Halford
also seemed proud of the fact that they applied
a liberal dose of contrast to the album, with
Epitaph and Dreamer Deceiver there to
represent a terrifically quiet and delicate side of
the band. Case in point, second-to-last track
Epitaph is another nod at Queen, with Hal-
ford singing in an odd sort of voice to solo
piano, plush Queen-like harmonies present for
added class. Its a touching track, a reverie on
the ravages of age, and a nice foil to the
mayhem around it.
Said Rob with respect to Epitaph, back in
1976, As there are no places for children in our
modern cities, theres also no place for the old.
And its simply frustrating for me to see how
these old human beings are forced to live their
lives. From these feelings developed the song
Epitaph. Besides, the lyrics and texts still have
strong importance for me. The words have to
mean something for me; they have to help me
articulate my feelings. Just like Glenn can make
you happy or sad with his guitar playing, it has
to be exactly the same with the lyrics. The
sound must express what is stated in their log-
ical content.
And a choice bit of mayhem closes the
album, the band turning in yet another front-
edge metal classic with a riff that presents note
densities raised beyond those of Priests com-
petitors. Jokes K.K., I think that there are
probably a few innuendoes in Island of Dom-
ination, obviously with Robs lyrics and stuff.
Probably better to speak to him about that
song [laughs].
Adds Ian, Island of Domination started a
bit differently, went through a couple of
changes. Epitaph . . . just piano and kettle
drums [laughs]. But Sad Wings as a whole was
comparatively easy, being that the majority of
the songs were already written. In latter days,
we tended to write in the studio, which tended
We also dont give a shit
whether we become rich and
famous through our music.
to extend the recording period. But in the
early days, we couldnt afford to do that
[laughs]. Up-and-coming band, we had to get
in there and do things as quickly as possible.
So in that way, it was quite easy, and the pro-
duction wasnt as elaborate as future albums.
The songs were quite new, except for Victim
of Changes of course.
Sad Wings of Destiny crept to a #48 position
in the U.K., eventually going gold in 1989.
Astonishingly, the esteemed but usually anti-
metal Rolling Stone ran a review of the album,
with Kris Nicholson calling the record, chock-
full of ear-piercing vocals and the thick,
sensuous rhythms of a Fender Stratocaster,
adding that the album recalls the intensity of
the Deep Purple of Machine Head. The short
review closes with Judas Priest have a fair
chance of success through copying Deep
Purple, especially since their antecedents are
no longer contenders for the throne.
Back in reality, the band hit the road broke,
but with a hell of a record on its hands.
Recording had been conducted under the
harshest of circumstances, the boys allowing
themselves one meal a day, and eventually get-
ting jobs to support themselves after Gull
wouldnt cough up anything for the band to
live on. Glenn became a gardener, K.K. worked
(and mostly shirked) in a factory and Ian
drove a delivery van.
Before the album actually dropped, in early
75, sporadic touring had taken place, Priest
supported by the likes of Tuesday, Sounds, and
Ray Phillips new band, Phillips being Budgies
ex-drummer. A trip to the U.S. supported by
Motown/Tamla, which was attempting to get
into white rock n roll (when, in fact, Priests
album was to be issued by Janus Records in
both the U.S. and Canada), fell through, with
summer being filled in by a jaunt around Eng-
land, at one point as the undercard to Stray
and Babe Ruth. October saw the return of
Alan Moore as the band plowed on, sharing
stages with Pink Fairies; Reds, Whites & Blues;
and Consortium, with a memorable gig logged
on December 28th at the Roundhouse with
Stray and UFO co-headlining, with Priest and
Strife as support.
After the release of Sad Wings of Destiny, a
headlining tour began in April of 1976, run-
ning through May, with a single Roundhouse
show in June supported by Isotope and
Alcatraz. And that would be it for the bands
modest, limited, anticlimactic but character-
building Sad Wings of Destiny tour. That would
also be it for the bands relationship with Gull
Records, and good riddance, as far as the guys
were concerned. . . .
god will crucify you! dont see this band!
i can explain very wellwho
we are. Most importantly,
were not a band like KISS.
Sin After Sin
(CBS, April 77)
Side 1
Diamonds and Rust
Last Rose of Summer
Side 2
Let Us Prey
Call for the Priest/Raw Deal
Here Come the Tears
Dissident Aggressor
Come on lads,
lets go have a drink
Sin After Sin
Still, applause to CBS for noticing that
talent will out, or should out. And so they
threw Priest a bone, giving this ambi-
tious band a major label contract,
removing the boys from the skinflint
machinations of the guys at Gull. Crucial
to this turn of events was the fact the
boys had canned their previous manage-
ment, signing on with David Hemmings
of Arnakata Management, who engi-
neered the move away from Gull,
essentially a breaking of their contract
which resulted in the band losing all
rights to that material and any demos
that might be found scraping about. It
was in fact a Brit transplanted to
America, Paul Atkinson, then 30 years
old and in A&R in the States, who would
sign the band to CBS, the label shelling
out a 60,000 pound advance with which
to forge the bands new collection of pli-
able, space age, heavy metal anthems. In
contrast, Gulls budget for the bands first
two albums was 2000 pounds apiece.
Well, again, those were kind of hard times,
Well, again, those were kind of hard
times, says K.K., remembering all too clearly
that there still wouldnt be much dosh for years
to come. We were going between record com-
panies. Lots of things were happening,
changing producers, changing studios. We
were still struggling to get the bands sound
onto record, onto vinyl, so to speak. Obviously
its much easier now with todays technology.
But we were still struggling to do that. And
changing drummers, I might add as well. But
we were doing well. We were still trying to find
our feet, really, with those early recordings. A
little bit of frustration that we couldnt get the
sound of the energy and the strength of the
band on record. Obviously, being able to
remaster those recently, its helped us satisfy
ourselves a little bit.
Asked whether the band was going through
a big rethink, K.K. says, I guess we probably
did, because we were a bit disappointed. The
Sad Wings of Destiny album was a very suc-
cessful album for the band, you know, and we
felt very let down and disappointed in the
record industry, because Gull Records really
werent doing what they should do for the
band. They were kinda milking us a little bit.
So obviously we moved to what was then CBS,
which was great. But we really didnt know
what we were supposed to do, I dont think,
musically, to try to achieve success. It was a
dark period in the bands career is what I think.
And I think it shows with the songs on that
album if you listen to it, its really very dark
[laughs] and quite moody. And I think the title
fits Sin After Sin.
It was a bigger rethink than first impres-
sions would warrant. In fact, the band
aborted their first sessions, leading the label
to call on Deep Purple bassist and up-and-
coming producer Roger Glover to bail out the
production. We had started the album our-
selves, and the record company didnt think it
But we really didnt know what
we were supposed to do, I dont
think, musically, to try to
achieve success. Itwas a dark
period in the bands career.
was a good idea, recalls Glenn. Actually we
started with another guy, Jeremy somebody.
And in those days, we had to listen to the
record company, so they suggested Roger. But
we didnt mind that suggestion because Roger
had always been involved with production,
and had been with Deep Purple. It was the
first album we did with CBS as well, so they
had a lot of influence on us at the time. You
know, I think when you look back on any-
thing, you can be critical about it. At the time
we were happy with it.
As far as I was concerned, it was a career
move, muses Glover, on tapping the Priest job.
The band wants me to produce them, so I
went, OK. They werent that well-known but
they were well-known enough. They had two
albums out before that, and it was actually the
record company that approached me, We want
you to produce Judas Priest, and I said fine and
I went along to a rehearsal. It was at Pinewood
Studio in London and I went along and said hi,
introduced myself. Its very odd meeting five
people for the first time. You dont know whos
who and whos what. Anyway, they set up and I
said, Play me some of your stuff. And they
played various songs that they were writing
and Id make various suggestions or noises of
encouragement That riff sounds good, but
you should put it after the punch line, that sort
of thing. And I got the feeling that they werent
really interested in what I had to say. And it was
kind of a strange atmosphere. So at the end of
the day I said, Come on lads, lets go have a
drink. So we went down to the pub, and I laid
my cards on the table and I said, Look, I get the
feeling that you dont want me to produce you.
And they said, Well actually, were glad you
brought that up because thats the truth. We
dont want you to produce us. And I said fine.
And they said, Its the record company. They
want you and we dont want anybody. We want
come on lads, lets go have a drink
Jill Furmanovsky
to do it ourselves. So I said, Look, I dont really
want to produce anybody who doesnt want to
be produced, so lets just call it a day. And they
were like fine, OK. And that was the end of it;
we parted on good terms.
And I called up management and said, Its
not going to work out; theyre not interested in
having me as a producer. And thats all there
was until a month or two later when they were
actually in the studio and I got a call begging
for help basically. Theyd been in the studio for
like two weeks, and in the process they had
sacked the drummer and they had six studio
days left. So I got in the car and went down to
the studio and said, Well, play me what youve
got. And they played me what they had and it
was awful. There was nothing really worth sal-
vaging. And I said, Right, what do you want to
do? And they said, Well we have six days and
were going to get Simon Phillips, who I
happened to know anyway, and I said, Right,
well were going to start from scratch, and
were going to do it really quick, and boom, we
did. So we recorded everything again. But it
was done really, really quickly and listening to
it now, there are things I would change in an
instant, but then again, I think that about most
of the albums Ive been involved in.
I think they really found their genre after
that. What metal is to me is a kind of . . . if you
take a hard rock band, any hard rock band,
doesnt have to be us, but something that came
out of the 60s, when you had an eclectic mix
of musicians with all sorts of musical influ-
ences, and you take the extremes of that, and
just the extremes, and double the volume, and
simplify it all thats what heavy metal is. Its
the extreme end of the screaming part and the
loud part and the riff part, and it doesnt take
into consideration the jazz, funk, the pop, the
folk, the classical. Its one-dimensional music.
And sometimes you get strength by being that
simple, and Judas Priest were that kind of a
band. Theyre obviously good musicians, but
good musicians do not great albums make.
Great writers make great albums. And they
were finding their feet. They found their feet
and they became heavy metal with the whips
and chains, which eventually overtook them.
No question, Judas Priest were a precursor of
the heavy metal thing.
You know, I got the job on the basis of
Nazareths This Flight Tonight, which was
basically my arrangement. Nazareth had run
out of songs. They were going to do This
Flight Tonight, but they were going to do it the
way . . . I dont know, Rod Stewart might have
done it on a solo album. And I said, No, thats
kind of boring, lets do something different. So
I came up with this whole chugga concept and
the arrangement for it. And it was on the
strength of that, I think, that Judas Priest
wanted me to do Diamonds and Rust, which,
you know, if you listen to it, you see the simi-
larities. So I cant remember particularly what
suggestions I had.
I think when you look
back on anything,you
can be criticalabout it.
At the time we were
happy with it.
Ian simplifies but basically corroborates
Rogers version of events. It was the first
album we did for Columbia, and the budget
was bigger for one thing [laughs], so we could
spend more time. We also had Roger, of course.
Everything seemed to run quite smoothly. It
was a bit strange working with Roger at first,
but once we got to know him and vice versa,
things seemed to go along easygoing guy,
smashing bloke, really. It was also the first
album that we ever used a session drummer
on. Alan Moore left us for one reason or
another, and sort of left us in the lurch we
had an album to record and there was no one
to help us put it down [laughs].
Rogers a great guy, agrees Tipton, and
when we were working with him, he was very
tired a lot of the time. He was going through a
divorce, one or two things. But hes a legend,
and Purple was one of the first bands I sup-
ported, as a guitarist and singer in a three-piece,
throughout Europe, and I still get hot flushes
when I think about it. That was my real baptism
of fire. But Ive got a lot of respect for Roger, and
Purple were always one of my favorite bands in
the early days. So weve got a lot of respect for
him; he was a good guy to work with.
The drummer sparking and flying all over
what was to become Sin After Sin was a young,
curly haired prodigy by the name of Simon
Phillips, who would go on to all sorts of high
profile gigs after Priest, most notably The Who
and Pete Townshend solo. When Simon
Phillips came along and started to play, it was
amazing, recalls Ian. He was only 20 or some-
thing, only a kid and only a small bloke anyway,
but he was absolute dynamite. He got behind
this enormous drum kit, and you can hardly see
the bloke, and youre giving hand signals to him
and everything and he started to play and he
blew us away. And of course that set a precedent
then. We had to go find somebody who could
replace him [laughs]. Unfortunately Simon
couldnt join the band; he had committed him-
self to Jack Bruce. No, I got along great with
Simon. We wanted him to join the band, but as
I said, he had previous commitments so he
couldnt even do the tour. So we had to search
high and low to find someone as good as Simon.
And of course, Les Binks came along, and he
was in excellent standing.
Glenn concurs on the subject of Simon.
Simon is fantastic. At the time, we were
come on lads, lets go have a drink
Theyre obviously good musicians,
but good musicians do not great
albums make. Great writers
make great albums.
between drummers and we needed somebody
to play on an album. I mean, hes magical;
really you just cant fall out of time with him;
hes so solid and capable of so much. And of
course Les came in and filled Simons shoes,
which were big shoes to fill. And Les did it
admirably, but Simon is magical. And at the
time, we did ask him if he wanted to come out
and tour, but he had other commitments, so
we just had to leave it at that.
It was in the days when making music and
recording music was really fun, recalls Phillips
on his brief collaboration with the band.
There were no machines, no metronomes, no
ProTools; there were 24 tracks, but there
werent 24 tracks, if you know what I mean. No
digital reverb, and you all just sat in a room
together and you played. Roger Glover was
producing it, and it was really down to him
that he asked me to do it, because I played on
his solo album Elements, which also had Cozy
Powell on it, and also on the original Whites-
nake album. And we went to a rehearsal room
for one day, and we started playing. There
wasnt listening to any demos, because there
werent demos. Glenn just had all the songs in
his head, and we went through them. And in
those days, not everybody had demos. With
Pete Townshend, he had a finished record and
used to play that to the band [laughs]. Yes, he
made incredible demos. But with Priest, I
would play along, and when there was a riff to
learn, we would stop, hed show me the riff a
couple of times and we would carry on. And
thats how we moved it along.
We moved into Ramport Studios, and
Glenns guitar rig was loud, and the whole
drum kit was resonating because of it, and the
bass player was next to me as well same
setup as the one I had with Gary Moore doing
Simon Phillips
Back in the Streets . . . fantastic. They had all
their stage gear, and Rob Halford was in a
booth, actually, the vocal booth where Roger
Daltrey used to sing all those songs. And thats
how we made the record. Very straightforward,
simple and fun; it was great.
They did ask me to join the band, but I had
actually joined a band with Jack Bruce, and we
had just made a record for RSO Records, and I
was actually a member of the band, so I
couldnt really split after making the record
[laughs], you know what I mean? So that was
the reason I didnt join them. And its funny,
because I bumped into the tall guy who plays
with them now, Scott Travis. I bumped into
Scott in S.I.R. in Los Angeles years ago. They
were rehearsing next door and I was rehearsing
with Joe Walsh and Keith Emerson and John
Entwistle [laughs]; we were putting a project
together. It was funny, because I hadnt seen
any of those guys since 1977. And here we are
1990; it was amazing, not actually running into
each other for so long.
Phillips reflects further, It was the begin-
ning, yeah . . . really the beginning of heavy
metal, I guess. But obviously, compositionally,
I didnt write any of the songs. But when it
came to doing any playing, I had always been
given pretty much free rein. And I think thats
why people ask me to play on their records
because they know theyre going to get some-
thing pretty radically different. Its not
conscious at all. Its very strange; I hear a song
and then I play it, like I say, the way I figure it
should be. The only thing that I used to find . . .
I mean, were going back to the 70s, early 80s,
where I used to do a lot of sessions and a lot of
records, and I was pretty as Pete Townshend
used to call me anarchic. And I think thats
why he liked the way I played, because I did
things that werent safe. I really pushed the
And what I really used to do because I
enjoyed many types of music if I was playing
in a situation that was rock n roll or metal
it wasnt called metal back then, but maybe
heavy rock but I was always trying to make
it sound funky. Because I loved Band of
Gypsies, and I loved the way Buddy Miles
played with Hendrix. To me, it was the funk
factor that really made it work. What it does is
it grounds and puts groove to heavy rock,
which most people were pretty light on at that
time. Ian Paice with Deep Purple was fantastic,
come on lads, lets go have a drink
I was pretty
as Pete Townshend used
to call me anarchic.
Simon Phillips
thats what I love about his playing, because it
wasnt heavy rock, but he always had a solid
groove. John Bonham with Zep, same thing.
But there were a lot of rock n roll bands where
the groove was . . . it came from a different
place, and thats what I wanted to do. So while I
was playing heavy metal with Judas Priest, I was
thinking Bernard Purdy, Buddy Miles, Sly, you
see what I mean? Actually, nobody had any idea
thats what I was thinking, but thats what I was
thinking: lets place it in a groove that is more
funk than metal. Now obviously, you probably
cant hear that, but what it does is gives it a
really good grounding. And vice versa when I
used to do sort of the funk sessions I played
with Edwin Starr, Olympic Runners and all
sorts of things like that I used to put more of
a thrashy rock n roll approach to it, more
splashy high hats, more openness, especially the
open sound, which I really like, which is totally
wrong for funk. You see what I mean? Thats
where, I guess, in terms of any influence or any
style, that is what I brought to it.
Asked about the extent of his visit with the
Priest, compared with his other famous metal
session the first Michael Schenker Group
album Simon says, Oh god, we did one
days rehearsal, and we were in Ramport for a
week, and that was it. And I had my 20th
birthday; I do remember that [laughs]. It was
February of 77, and I dont think it was any
longer than a week. And with Michael
Schenker, we did one rehearsal, one afternoon,
and the record, again, was probably about a
week. Typically in those days, tracking used to
be seven to ten days.
Oh, they were fine! They were doing great,
recalls Simon, asked about Priests chemistry
during his tenure. This is the other thing; when
you get down to it, every band is made up of one
or two key people. They are the writers, they
know where everything is. And its no slight to
the other guys; they are the backbone of the
band, but they tend to be a little quieter, because
they know where the music is coming from. The
problems you get, usually, are with the main
artist, which in this case is Glenn. Hes the guy
that really drives it. Rob obviously had a hand in
all the lyrics and a big part of the writing, and
K.K. was actually in the control room most of
the time with Roger Glover. And Roger . . . the
most friction you will get will be between the
producer and the main guy in the band. Every
single album you make, there are differences of
opinion and it can get quite heated, quite pas-
sionate. Theres nothing wrong with that, as long
as it doesnt get unproductive. And normally, a
good healthy disagreement and a rethink is not
bad, because sometimes youre both going down
the wrong path. But in terms of that project,
everybody was great. I got on very well with the
band. I knew Roger as well, so maybe in some
ways, it was quite handy because we had one
guy, like myself, who was very experienced in
making records, and being in that position,
joining a band for a week that was sort of
what I was doing quite a lot of, I guess [laughs].
In a certain way, I could be the leveler or the cat-
alyst between the producer and the lead guy.
Yeah, that may be coincidence, reflects
Simon, on the idea that his style really propelled
the band forward into the technical dexterity
and speed demonstrated all over Sin After Sin,
but even more so on Stained Class and to a
lesser extent, Killing Machine. If what I con-
tributed changed what happened to them, then
thats fantastic, thats great. I cant take the credit
for that, really. Because Glenn wrote the songs
and I just played them from my perspective and
from the experience I had playing music.
Judas Priests third album, Sin After Sin,
would hit the racks in April of 1977, on CBS in
the U.K., Columbia in the U.S. and Canada, and
Epic in Japan. As mentioned, rehearsals for the
album had been conducted at Pinewood Stu-
dios, known for James Bond and Superman
production work. Accommodations were at a
nearby convent, with nuns running a bed and
breakfast. Apparently, perhaps taking a liking to
the bands religious name, they had asked Priest
to play at a garden party they were putting
together, a gig that did not come to fruition.
The album would be recorded in January of
77 at Rampart Studios (which was owned by
The Who) in Battersea, with Mark Dodson as
engineer helping out Roger. Mixing would take
place at Wessex Studios, Highbury, London.
For artwork, CBS art director Roslav Szaybo
hired on Irish-born art school grad Bob Carlos
Clarke as illustrator Clarke went on to
become a top erotic photographer, working
mostly in black and white, and produced five
photography books before dying in March of
2006 at the age of 57. Cause of death was
reported as suicide via a leap in front of a
London commuter train, although his publi-
cist has called the death accidental. Before his
worldwide fame, he would also work on cover
art for Barclay James Harvest, Band of Joy, Pete
Townshend, Ric Ocasek and Bonnie Tyler.
Once inside the record, the listener got to
hear the new, gleaming, impressive and finessed
Judas Priest through opening track Sinner, a
song one might liken to Deep Purples Flight
of the Rat given its hummable, serviceable
chug, its immediacy and its melody. Come
break time, Rob raises the apocalyptic tale to
come on lads, lets go have a drink
new heights of urgency, accompanied by riffing
that is elegant, then downright elegiac. A gor-
geously groovy mellow respite occurs, strafed
by bluesy, noisy guitars, before an eventual
return to the previous premise and an intelli-
gent heavy metal rise to crescendo. Sinner is
ultimately an epic without resorting to epic
length, its impressive religiosity positively
springing from Robs vocal performance and
arrangements all in all, a fiery, yet measured
and sophisticated way to open the bands major
label debut. Ian is wont to joke that Sinner
was Kens party piece, given the theatrics he
would inject into the back section of the song
when performing it live to the max, Hill adding,
Thats another epic song, a production piece.
There are two or three different solo parts in it,
intricate rhythm parts. It was a very involved
track to put down. And its another one we
played onstage for a long time.
We always tried to be different,says Hill, on
Sinner and those times. With every album,
we always tried to take at least one step forward,
make it a little bit better, a bit different from the
previous one. But obviously, it always sounded
like Priest, with the same musicians, same
vocalist. We were really conscious of saying, oh
yeah, weve got to do this, got to do that, to stay
ahead of the game. It was a natural thing that
came to us. Obviously, you listen to other
peoples material, but I dont think we looked at
it from a competitive point of view at all.
Said K.K. of his approach to soloing, Pretty
mad and way out, really. I try to go to the areas
of the instrument that hopefully no man has
ever gone before [laughs]. I always try to be as
innovative as I possibly can, and try to generate
as much energy and excitement as I can. And I
must say, the great Jimi Hendrix . . . I knew how
that affected me. Because he literally was going
to places no one had been before. So basically, in
his footsteps, I try to do something a bit dif-
ferent, but pretty wild and frenzied: I like that
sort of stuff. On record, in most cases, I just pick
up the guitar and wail away. And the recorders
are going, and often Im thinking, Yeah, thats
cool, and Im not generally happy to do too
much more research. I might go in and refine a
couple of parts. I try to keep it as natural as pos-
sible. Because I need to do it when I feel like
doing it, so whatever naturally comes out, comes
out. I like it to be as me as much as possible.
The bands nimble, pop metal version of
the Joan Baez ballad Diamonds and Rust
comes next, Joan meeting the band in future
years and finding them very nice boys,
thanking them for turning the song into a
considerable hit, its release as a single (backed
with Dissident Aggressor) helping drive the
album to a #23 placement in the U.K. charts.
The band had already worked the song up
during the Sad Wings of Destiny sessions (as
suggested to them by Gull president David
Howells) and so following CBSs idea of trying
to break the band with a cover, they thought
theyd pull out the familiar track again. As
Roger mentioned, the polite metal gallop of
the song necessarily recalls what Glover
achieved with This Flight Tonight for
Nazareth three years earlier.
Starbreaker comes next, the song intro-
duced by Simon and his drums, the sound of
which . . . well, Glovers production on this
record is decidedly non-heavy metal. There isnt
much bottom end. Its pretty much an intellec-
tual sound. Nonetheless, the guitars are molten
on this one, with Rob spitting out his curious,
ambiguous tale with venom, but from some-
what of a remote area within the mix.
Last Rose of Summer would be the bands
most seriously layered and considered ballad to
date. Bluesy of vibe, its actually not a funeral
dirge as was the bands predilection one and
two albums back with lighter music (another
habit Priest may have picked up from
Sabbath). Still, lyrically, one can look upon this
song as in the same family as Atkins morose
Winter sentiment, winter of course being the
most heavy metal of seasons.
Side two of the original vinyl opened with
the manic panic of Let Us Prey/Call for the
Priest, one of a handful of songs that can
claim serious legacy with respect to the origins
of speed metal, Deep Purples Fireball per-
haps achieving that status first. Priest continue
to raise the bar with respect to fireworks, acro-
batics, dexterity and sophistication, goaded on
by the dynamo behind the kit. Hill keeps pace,
K.K. and Glenn riff like demons, and Rob
bestows upon the world the increasingly
intense vocal operatics that would earn him
the title of Metal God.
Raw Deal follows, and one cant help read
Robs lyric as a sort of paean to gay cruising
once he came out, he pretty much admitted as
much, quite surprised that so few people got it.
Some of his best lines are in there (and amus-
ingly, it was the reference to Fire Island that
eventually started to raise eyebrows), plus
some innovative phrasing, a necessity due to
Glenns innovative riffing and Phillips funk
end around. An admirable, lesser celebrated
Priest composition, this ones a smart cookie,
demonstrating the bands skill and courage to
break rules like their cohorts in Queen or
Sabbath or Zeppelin.
Here Come the Tears finds the band back
in listless, despondent terrain when courting
mellow music. Yet really, the song is more like
a proto-power ballad, jagging along to heavy,
doomful chording circa Sabbath as Rob howls
impressively, harrowingly, over a wide groove
come on lads, lets go have a drink
punctuated by Phillips precise, tightly tuned
and attuned tom patterns. It all serves as pre-
amble to Dissident Aggressor, a corker of a
heavy metal construct, a furnace blast of
brainiac metal, a critical tour de force that also
crushes. Arguably, this right here is the pin-
nacle of Priests front-edge writing, even if
three decades of records have come to pass
since its impressive jag. One wonders if Glenn
saw the song becoming what it did, for really it
is Simon Phillips that sends it into the jazzo-
sphere. Phillips plays the song as Neil Peart
might, also introducing the trashed cymbal
effect most attributed to Bill Bruford on King
Crimsons Red album. The song tugs and
shoves, just like the lyric, just like Robs
guttural-to-soaring vocal, just like the violent
leads. The band continues to raise its game
and press on to the tracks all-too-soon close,
and thats it Sin After Sin ends on a sym-
phony of highs.
K.K. concurs that Simon lends a big boost
to Dissident Aggressor. Yes he does, and I
really think the album kicks in with that one. I
mean, that was one of the last things we did,
and that wouldve been a great starting point, if
the album would have opened with that song.
On that one, Glenn and myself were there
solely for the musical side, whereas Rob was
really reaching out on an international level,
really, to be heard with his lyrics.
Press for the band was still thin on the
ground, but Circus Michael Bloom managed a
fairly lengthy (and tepid but encouraging)
review of the record, calling Sin After Sina very
balanced album with the right amount of
raunch, no real rough edges, and a ballad just
where you need one to mellow out in short,
a joy to any A&R mans heart. Bloom then sin-
gles out Simon Phillips, calling him one of
Englands top five drummers, a sort of heavy
Phil Collins with an unbelievable double bass
Richard Galbraith
come on lads, lets go have a drink
Richard Galbraith Richard Galbraith
drum roll and other behemoth chops. So this is
the best-drummed record of its kind in history.
In the same issue of Circus, a short piece ran
on the band, with Rob talking about wanting to
move to New York and live in a skyscraper, as
well as wanting to dance for a living, like Fred
Astaire, a comment I recall following him
closely for a few years, causing no end of grief to
this writer as a young pup, a junior headbanger
who saw this new heavy metal band as the best
in existence. The writer of the article, Hannah
Spitzer, as well as Rob, briefly acknowledge that
punk was garnering all the attention at the time
in the music industry. True, Sin After Sin was
issued smack at the point of punks peak, yet
history would record the genre more as a
curious cultural movement, with the record and
ticket sales still going to all those bands we call
classic rock today. Also of note, the piece erro-
neously listed Alan Moore as Priests drummer.
For the Sin After Sin tour, Priest would end
up collaring one Les Feathertouch Binks to
pound the skins, Les being a percussionist of
similar technicality to Simon, also a double
bass drum player, a rare commodity back in
the late 70s. Curiously, like Simon, Binks
would also claim earlier Roger Glover connec-
tions, having worked on Rogers Butterfly Ball
project, as well as plying the skins for Eric
Burdon. Butterfly Ball morphed toward Eddie
Hardins Wizards Convention project, and Les
was there for that too, as well as two records
with obscure pop act Fancy.
Bob Catley from U.K. prog rockers Magnum
recalls their 1977 support slots to the Priest as
career-defining. We had recorded the first
album, Kingdom of Madness, but it wasnt due to
come out for some reason until 78. And we
thought it was a good idea . . . you know, lets get
out there. We were doing residencies and our
own gigs around the Midlands, and then Jet
Records got us onto the Judas Priest tour, which
Adrian Boot/RetnaUK
was their first major European tour. And we had
a great time, Oh, here we are, weve arrived,
were on a proper stage with a lot of people in
front of us. Not a lot of them knew who we
were, but we went down very, very well. And it
taught us a lot about how to get on in the busi-
ness. What we do now, we take for granted. You
make an album, go out on tour, and you do
interviews and all that, but we didnt know
about any of that at the time. It was all new to
us. So it was a bit of an eye-opener, the Judas
Priest tour. I used to have a couple chats with
Rob Halford on occasion, when they were
soundchecking, and when we went in to sound-
check ourselves. We would talk on occasion and
have a beer. But you dont really mix, you know?
You have your own band and your own crew
and kind of leave people alone. Nice guys
though, all from Wolverhampton. And over the
years, you meet them again and you talk about
stuff youd done together years ago.
Out on the first leg of the British tour, per-
haps spurred on by getting away with his Raw
Deal lyric, Rob was raising eyebrows with his
flamboyant dress, his prim, shortened coif, his
eyeliner and his stage moves. The Sin After Sin
campaign left England in May of 77, Priest
finding themselves supporting REO Speed-
wagon as part of their first trip to the States.
Dates were also logged with Ted Nugent, For-
eigner, Head East and Starz, with the highlight
of the trip being Day on the Green in Oakland,
playing to 60,000 at a show at 11:30 in the
morning, later headlined by the mighty Led
Zeppelin. It is said that Robert Plant personally
had asked for the baby band from his home-
town of Birmingham to help fill out the Bill
Graham spectacle, and in retrospect, Priest look
upon their two shows with Zeppelin as the
crystallizing moment of the bands career,
despite Rob earning himself a hail of boos by
greeting the Oakland crowd as San Franciscans.
come on lads, lets go have a drink
Jill Furmanovsky
Stained Class
(CBS, February 78)
Side 1
White Heat, Red Hot
Better by You, Better than Me
Stained Class
Side 2
Saints in Hell
Beyond the Realms of Death
Heroes End
We just set out to write the
fastest track ever written
Stained Class
Killer modernized logo strapped on
front, and an artsy upper echelon cover
to boot (although one could mistake it
for a disco album), Stained Class arrived
February 10, 1978, proving that the tech-
nical metal madness of its predecessor,
Sin After Sin, was a mere half-step along
a plane reserved for the masters smack in
the middle of a near superhuman run of
Les Binks, touring drummer for the last
record, would distinguish himself on the new
album as a more-than-able replacement for
Simon Phillips, and all around him, the band
was intent on intense fireworks to match his
heat, start to finish.
Says Ian of Stained Class, That was Dennis
Mackay that recorded that. It was done in
Chipping Norton, Coxwolds, that beautiful
place [laughs]. And on that album of course
was the infamous Better by You, Better than
Me, which actually Dennis didnt produce that
one. That was an extra track that we ended up
putting on, as the album was a little bit short.
Dennis MacKay had engineered for the likes
of Supertramp, David Bowie and Jeff Beck, but
his productions were more in the jazz world; Al
Dimeola, Stanley Clarke and Mahavishnus
John McLaughlin all benefited from his deft
touch. Since Priest, hes had a varied resume,
with Pat Travers and Tygers of Pan Tang being
closest to Priest genre-wise. In essence, here we
had Priest repeating history. A jazzy drummer
helped turn Sin After Sin into an upmarket
oddball of a record, a pioneering note-dense
heavy metal album of high construct. For
Stained Class, it would be a producer from that
same world who would serve much the same
function, and oddly, most pertinently in the
drum area, for this was not the way you pro-
duce heavy metal drums, but the heavy metal
world was somehow better for it.
The recording of Stained Class took place in
October and November of 77. The mix would
be handled by Neil Ross at Trident. The afore-
mentioned Better by You, Better than Me was
Chris Walter / Photofeatures
produced by James Guthrie after the original
sessions. It is said the label wanted to try their
luck again with a cover version, so the Spooky
Tooth obscurity was recorded after the original
sessions, at Utopia in London, at which time
Dennis MacKay was unavailable for the job.
Still the sound, for all intents and purposes,
matches up, the entire album stepping politely
out of the speakers with upper-crust high
fidelity, featuring meticulous separation, scin-
tillating treble, measured, pinpoint bass, and in
totality, a level of precision not normally asso-
ciated with heavy metal records.
Stained Class opened in explosive fashion
with a legendary Les Binks drum intro, fea-
turing a barrage of double bass drums rare
in that era after which Exciter proper
kicks in. Widely considered one of the early
we just set out to write the fastest
track ever written
Richard Galbraith
speed metal classics (as mentioned, Fireball,
from 71, trumps it; as does Priests own Call
for the Priest), Exciter builds to a screeching
crescendo, all the while Glenn and K.K.
turning in classy, artful riffs and rhythm
charges, and Rob showing his thespian skills,
range and intensifying lyrical sophistication
a lot of words, many of them quite big, are
stuffed into this road racer of a track. As well,
the religious overtones and feel of Robs pomp-
filled phrasings lend the song the gravitas it
needs, else it would likely fly off the rails.
Exciter, thats just a classic Priest track,
muses K.K., addressing its speed. I think that
one and Hell Bent for Leather would be syn-
onymous with the name Judas Priest. I think
we just set out to write the fastest track ever
written [laughs]. And the one before that
would have been Call for the Priest on Sin
After Sin that was the progenitor of it all, I
think. Stained Class also saw the change of the
band really going for the leather and the studs.
Were very, very proud of that record, and
proud of everything weve ever done. We had
great times, obviously, recording the record. It
was obviously full of great songs.
The Tipton composition White Heat, Red
Hot follows, and Rob turns in another compli-
every book, film, article
afterwards would have come
under fire. It would have
been unbearable for
everyone, had we lost.
Richard Galbraith
cated, ambiguous but decidedly apocalyptic
lyric, both tracks on the album thus far fitting
the stated goal from two records back on Sad
Wings, namely big changes are gonna come.
Tiptons riff is a circular classic, and the guitar
sound is gorgeous. Priest change it up for a ven-
omous double-speed chorus, before settling
back into a funky groove the bands last
drummer might have appreciated. Next up is
the Spooky Tooth cover, Better by You, Better
than Me, written by keyboardist Gary Wright.
It dovetails so nicely with the rest of the mate-
rial, one might not notice it was a cover. Its
quite riffy, the chorus is aptly grand and reli-
gious of vibe, like many high-minded Priest
moments, and with those gorgeously tuned
toms of Binks (much like Peart), the song bears
enough of a Priest stamp that it doesnt disrupt
the sequence of events. The track was issued as
a single a month before the release of the album
(backed with Invader) but failed to chart.
The title track is next (countless times in
the press, this album was called Stained Glass)
and once again, Priest stuff a pert and perky,
modern metal rocker with all sorts of A riffs,
shifts in tempo, corners and creases. Rob does
some of his highest singing, also using some of
the sing-songy vocal melodies he had written
seemingly effortlessly back in the golden era of
the band. Invader offers more of the same
postDeep Purple perfection, Priest finding
groove and goodly riffing while Rob turns in
an amusing lyric on a subject dear to metal
hearts, alien invasion. Of note, Glenn has
called the quieter noise intro to this track,
which features Echoplexes, a bit timid.
Opening side two of the original vinyl was
Saints in Hell, Rob again using mostly the
high end of his prodigious range. Lyrically, this
is a colorful one, with all manner of man and
beast joining in yet another apocalyptic battle,
one that seems to involve good and evil in a
religious sense, but also includes beings and
creations from science fiction. It is possible
although a bit of a muddle to see most of
the album as part of the same fiery, astral tale,
with the slick graphics of the album cover even
helping to flesh out a vibe Tipton was wont to
call cybernetic.
Savage is next, and its a bit of a departure,
heavier and darker than the rest of the album,
almost Sabbatharian, with Rob writing a classy
lyric mourning the white mans vanquishing of
savages and their lands. Its a smart, poignant
lyric, helping to underscore this band and this
album as something a few notches above stan-
dard heavy metal fare.
Next up was Beyond the Realms of Death,
a dark and pure heavy metal power ballad of
a serious type that would give rise to classics
from Metallica like Fade to Black and One.
That was the one that got us into trouble,
recalls Glenn, of the song that brought the
band the lawsuit well discuss in greater detail
later in our Ram it Down chapter. Thats what
thinking about that album brings back to me
immediately, all that hullabaloo and nonsense
surrounding it. I had to go to court every day
in a suit, because they wouldnt let us in
without a suit. And we had to listen to bare-
faced lies. But we were victorious in the end, so
in a way we flew the flag for heavy metal.
Because every book, film, article afterwards
would have come under fire. It would have
been unbearable for everyone, had we lost.
Adds K.K., speaking more so about the
album as a whole, That was the one with the
so-called subliminal messages and the court
case, so obviously, I dont know if the band has
grown to distance themselves from that album
[laughs]. Well, we wouldnt musically anyway,
because theyre all our babies.
The songs mournful, passionate, despon-
dent suicide theme would be cited as the fuel
for a teenage suicide pact between two Reno,
Nevada, fans. One friend died and another was
greatly disfigured, dying later of a drug over-
dose. Stained Classs cover art was even called
into play, with the bar pattern (some call it a
laser beam) seen as the path of a bullet. Strictly
speaking, it was Better by You, Better than
Me that was cited for subliminal messaging
i.e., backmasking with Beyond the Realms
of Death collared for its forward message.
Notes Al Atkins: The big riff in the middle
of Beyond the Realms of Death sounds very
much like a song I wrote called Life Goes On.
But it was a long time ago and I dont lose any
Richard Galbraith
sleep over it. Indeed, that is one monster of a
riff of which Al speaks, a ferociously angry and
heavy break in a song that is mostly balladic,
although heavy and Sabbath-like come chorus
time. Bizarrely, the song is credited to
Binks/Halford, reason being that Les had wan-
dered into rehearsal one day, picked up a
guitar and, being left-handed, turned it upside
down, proceeding to write the songs opening
pattern. K.K. has said its the one and only
time hed ever seen Binks pick up a guitar,
going so far as to say that Les wrote all of it,
save for the solos!
I love that song because whenever I sing
it, emotionally, it takes me on a wonderful
journey, reflects Rob on this morose and
funereal classic. I think about a lot of things
when I sing that song. Obviously I think
about my times with Priest. I also reflect on
some of the unfortunate situations that hap-
pened with people in rock n roll, and of
course to some extent the fans, people who
have difficulties in life and for one reason or
another, want to end their life in different
ways. But also its a song that has a lot of
strength, because its talking about an indi-
vidual surviving those difficult times.
Stained Class ends with Heroes End, an
ingenious inverted or backward-sounding riff
placed on a bed of halting, marching rhythms,
oer which Rob laments the untimely deaths of
a trio of talents (Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and
James Dean), and how their passing trans-
formed them into immortals. Halfords vocal is
almost punky, sassy, and is a big part of the
songs success, as is the additional, typically
high-quality riffing that adds dimension to the
track. Heroes End was also brought up
during the aforementioned notorious suicide
pact case, the argument being that the song
glorified death by equating it with heroism.
Hitting the road, the band played a little
over half the record, with the omissions being
Invader, Saints in Hell, Savage and
Heroes End. The rest of the set was split
evenly between emerging Sad Wings and Sin
After Sin classics, with Rocka Rolla ignored in
its entirety. January and February of 78 saw
the band blanket England and Scotland. Spring
saw them in the U.S. (Glenn has bad memories
of supporting a none-too-sociable or helpful
Foghat), after which five milestone dates would
be logged in Japan from July 25th to August
5th of 78.
its a song that has a lot of
strength, because its talking
about an individual surviving
those difficult times.
Richard Galbraith
Hell Bent for Leather
(CBS, February 79)
Side 1
Delivering the Goods
Rock Forever
Evening Star
Hell Bent for Leather
Take on the World
Side 2
Burnin Up
The Green Manalishi
(with the Two-Pronged Crown)
Killing Machine
Running Wild
Before the Dawn
Evil Fantasies
Here we are,
the ultimate metalheads
Hell Bent for Leather
By 1979, Judas Priest had spent fully a
decade being ignored in one form or
another. Now with three superlative,
groundbreaking heavy metal master-
pieces to their name, they were still
pretty much without commercial suc-
cess. Unfortunately, the bands next
record, called Killing Machine in the
U.K. and Hell Bent for Leather for the
U.S. market, wasnt going to change that
dismal situation appreciably. But what it
would do is provide the band with a
bridge concept, the bridge to a sound
that would bring them the success they
so long deserved.
How much the band in retrospect appre-
ciate the beauty of Hell Bent for Leather is
essentially . . . not much. Perhaps blinded by
actually making some money for once, the
guys tend to look upon its dumbed-down
follow-up, British Steel, most fondly. In this
writers opinion, however, some of the greatest
records in rock are such bridge albums, records
that seem to contain the underground striving
vibe from earlier records, combined with some
sort of new spark or excitability that is all the
more rich because it finds an old band making
new discoveries. Ergo, I consider Hell Bent for
Leather to be the greatest Priest platter of them
all, because it possesses the perfect blend of the
bands feverish old school technicality, and the
sturdy, chopped-down songfulness the new
discovery of say, British Steel or Screaming
for Vengeance.
Whats more, I consider this record to be
the best-sounding Priest album of them all, for
the first time, heavy, but wholly exempt from
the trendy 80s and 90s production traps the
band would stumble into on every record
going forward, save for Angel of Retribution.
Indeed, the sound on Hell Bent for Leather is
carnal, dirty, but still loaded up with all the fre-
quencies you want covered. It even has
adequate bottom end, which to some extent
was missing on its two prim predecessors.
Oddly, the productions of Rocka Rolla and Sad
Wings are almost more correct and full range
than those afforded the extreme, eccentric
third and fourth from the band.
Killing Machine would be recorded in
August of 1978 at Utopia and at CBS studios in
London, with the mix handled at Utopia. The
album was produced by James Guthrie,
making a return trip after handling the one
the band was just showing
its muscle and capability to
go through lots of different
dimensions and parameters.
Warren Weaver
late, errant track on Stained Class. Shortly, he
would distinguish himself as the producer for
Pink Floyds The Wall, and later Queensryches
full-length debut, The Warning. The album was
issued two months later in October of 1978 in
the U.K. and Japan, and in February of the fol-
lowing year, with the new title and one extra
track, in North America. Ironically enough,
notes Rob, we were told by the label that
Killing Machine was too much of a heavy state-
ment to use in America and Canada, so they
suggested Hell Bent for Leather. The framing at
the time was that the titles murderous impli-
cations would have been too much for the
large record retailers to want to put the album
on its racks.
James Guthrie, I believe, was recom-
mended by Columbia, recalls Rob, switching
tack. He came highly recommended because
of his engineering and production skills. I
think if you look at those three albums back to
back, there is a tremendous growth. From Sin
After Sin to Stained Class to Killing Machine,
theres an incredible sense of adventure going
on. So we wanted a producer who would be
able to accommodate all of the things we were
thinking of doing. If you look at some of the
songs on there, they are pretty diverse. I mean
you put Hell Bent for Leather against Killing
Machine or Burnin Up, and those two songs
especially are a real stretch from songs like The
Ripper or Victim of Changes. I think the band
was just showing its muscle and capability to
go through lots of different dimensions and
parameters, and we wanted a producer who
could come on the same journey with us and
not just some guy that was stuck in one partic-
ular mode of production ideas.
here we are, the ultimate metalheads
I know that that record by its own merits,
stands alone, adds Rob. They all do, they all
have something special about them, and some-
thing different to say. And I just recall that it
was a really cool experience recording with
James Guthrie. It was just another one of those
things where the band was specifically at, at
that moment in time.
The cover art for this record was gorgeous.
Featuring a slight update to the Priest logo
debuted one record back (as well as slight text
color variations for the two territories), the
sleeve included an introduction to the leather
and studs of heavy metal, but through a classy,
artistic, oblique presentation.
That was done by Roslav Szaybo, from the
art department at CBS in London, notes Ian.
He did a couple of them. On Hell Bent for
Leather, for that effect with the sunglasses, he
actually got an air rifle and he had dozens of
pairs of sunglasses and shot them with the air
rifle until he got the right effect. And then he lit
it from behind to get all the colors right.
Muses K.K., We were talking about the art-
work for that album, and how it probably was
the archetypal beginning of it all, with the
leather belt around the head of the figure. I
think that probably is the definitive beginning
of heavy metal maybe. Maybe Im wrong,
but definitely for Judas Priest, that says it all.
Here we are, the ultimate metalheads.
Killing Machine opened with a shattering
anthem of confidence, Delivering the Goods
being a masterful display of pacing, riffing,
surges and hanging back, growls and seductive
crooning. It is perhaps the perfect Priest expe-
rience, the track delivering the goods of which
Rob speaks in every way, from overall produc-
tion, to effects, guitar sound, heavy and
grooving drum performance, and above all,
watertight construction witness both its
smart start and the Rock and Rollinspired
drum barrage finale from Binks.
Rock Forever is next, and again Priest tri-
umphs. Tight, technical yet evocative of a
blues, this ones a corker, driven by a little
double bass drum from Binks, as well as Robs
passion-filled metal-loyal vocal. Saxon and a
dozen New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands
would take this defense of their music concept
further, but with this quick, perky number,
Priest were setting the stage for a decade
flooded with metal music.
Evening Star arrives mid-side, and a
vanilla-safe comparison to Deep Purples
Never Before is in order. Rocky but not all
that creative, or even attractive from a hook
point of view, it is a song that seemed destined
for launch as a single by those who wanted to
play it safe a little melody, a little hard rock,
not much of anything. Still, Ians bass line is a
funky blast, as is that little tom fill from Binks.
Next up is the albums short, shocked
rocker, Hell Bent for Leather being note-
dense speed metal with attitude something
missing from previous fast ones from a band
formerly a bit behaved and looking down their
spectacles. Opening with an effects-drenched
assault of drums, the song settles into a brisk
here we are, the ultimate metalheads
Warren Weaver
Purple-ish recline, an over-the-top pre-chorus
and a hugely anthemic chorus. Come solo
time, Priest gives us a nod to its religiously
toned past, the melodies here almost baroque.
It is said that the title might have been a lift
from the Blues Brothers, and that project
bands covering of a song called Rawhide.
Closing side one of the original vinyl was
Take on the World, another metal-is-all
anthem set, innovatively, to propulsive drums,
a bit of guitar, no bass and lots of layers of
vocals. The song ended up becoming a bit of a
soccer stadium staple, much like its brethren
anthem from Queen, We Will Rock You.
Asked about Take on the World, Hill explains
that these types of songs werent really
recorded as singles. They were just recorded as
rock anthems. The fact that they were com-
mercial is because of the lyric, Take on the
world. United, same thing. But we never con-
sciously went out and wrote a single per se.
Come side two, another less heralded Priest
classic drips with magnetism. Burnin Up is
funky, melodic, yet still supercharged with
rock-solid guitars. Again, theres a confidence
and a swagger there, as musicians, frontman
and producer conjoin for an upper crust metal
experience. The break is a bit of a psychedelic
respite similar to Zeppelins Whole Lotta
Love, from which the band emerges vicious
and delicious, molten guitars battling and
caterwauling until one final, victorious lapse
into a reprise of the songs magical first verse.
Fleetwood Macs The Green Manalishi
(with the Two-Pronged Crown), comes next
in the sequence, but only on the North
American issue of the album. Again, unsur-
prisingly, the label thought it might be a good
idea to record a cover to float as a single.
Better by You, Better than Me came about
this way, as did Diamonds and Rust. Priest
I think that probably is the
definitive beginning of heavy
metal maybe. Maybe Im wrong,
but definitely for Judas Priest,
that says it all. Here we are,
the ultimate metalheads.
figured they would only keep the song if they
had put their personal stamp on it, and that
was accomplished in spades. This leaden heavy
metal behemoth barely resembled the early
Fleetwood Mac original. Its celebrated Priest
chug is an instant invitation to headbang, and
its been a live favorite ever since.
Quips Glenn, It was a song we liked. Peter
Green has always been a bit of a hero to me
anyway, a great white English blues guitar
player and a great songwriter. I dont know
whether I suggested it. In fact, I dont think I
did. But it would have been one of us, I think,
as opposed to Diamonds and Rust, which I
think was suggested by the record company,
and then we kicked it around.
here we are, the ultimate metalheads
Warren Weaver
Adds Ian, I know at one time we were
going to do Race with the Devil by a band
called Gun, the Gurvitz brothers, and thats
one of the extra tracks we recorded that we
didnt use. We went away, and again they were
asking us to do a cover version with a view
toward getting it on radio, and somebody came
up with that. We thought, yeah, thats great. We
were all into Fleetwood Mac and Peter Green.
And I think it was Ken and Glenn who got
their heads together and revamped it. Rumors
persist of the band also, at one time, working
up Play with Fire by the Rolling Stones.
Again, this all came off the back of the
experience we had with songs like Diamonds
and Rust, recalls Rob. I think because that
was so well received, and since the label, partic-
ularly from America, was hoping to get some
music that they could use as a crossover into
American radio, we were approached with a
number of different possibilities. And someone
suggested Green Manalishi. My recollection is
that that was the one track that we were excited
about approaching.
People have speculated that Peter Greens
Manalishi lyric is in reference to the seduc-
tive allure of money, and that it was part of
what was pushing the enigmatic guitarist into
mental illness. A strong argument can also be
made that it refers to acid and acid flashbacks,
Green once saying that he took acid and
never came back. Turns out the story with the
most substance contains elements of both.
Green once intimated that the Manalishi was
an elastic-banded wad of paper money he
once saw, proffered as payment for a gig. The
wad was stood up on end and then fell away in
two directions, looking like a crown, after
which the word manalishi came to him. In
other interviews, Green has more plainly
explained that it was simply a song about
money, about a working guitarist getting more
of it than he deserved, more of it than he per-
sonally could handle.
The bands original title track came next,
Killing Machine being another one of these
lesser known Priest gems, the band going for
a minimalist, down-wound rhythm, again,
illustrating the adventurous nature of this
album, this idea that, as Glenn has suggested,
the record contains an astonishing range of
emotions and styles.
K.K. seems to intimate that the band had
attempted too much on records previous to this
one. Asked if Hell Bent for Leather represented a
move away from the fast, scientific writing of
Stained Class, he concurs, Yes, an easing off a
bit. Because you can actually try too hard in the
studio, thats for sure. You can become a victim
of your own endeavors, really. Too clever, per-
haps? Yeah, exactly [laughs]. They always say
you can get sucked up into your own ass if
youre not careful in the recording studio. And
theres a lot of truth in that.
Asked whether he viewed Hell Bent for
Leather as more of a flamboyant record than its
predecessors, Halford is reticent. You know,
even today Im pretty uncontrollable with
where Im potentially going to go next. I think
its just because I have this mental ability. I have
a very, very broad mind for anything thats
interesting or I could find potentially enter-
taining as a lyric, both from what goes on
inside of me as a person and from what Ive
witnessed in the rest of the world, whether its
on the street, the TV, or the radio, conversations
with friends. Im just absorbing all of this stuff.
So I think thats where it was with the music at
here we are, the ultimate metalheads
Warren Weaver
that time and how it affected me to write songs
like Burnin Up and Hell Bent for Leather.
You just sit there and think about the possibil-
ities. I mean, theres no rules. Thats what I like
about it. There really are no rules about what
you can do with lyrics in music. But even
though theres always been a certain portion of
metal being this kind of escapist, fantasy, illu-
sion world, I was always looking for some real
issues to talk about.
There was always that in Priest, says Rob,
asked if there was any degree of friction in the
band during the Hell Bent for Leather days.
There was always that there. Everybody
wanted to do everything else. I would have
liked in Priest, at that point, to go in the direc-
tion of a band like Queen, for example. If you
really sit down and have a complete under-
standing of the mind and the music of Judas
Priest, its very much that kind of Queen-like
approach. You can do anything. Just look at
what Judas Priest has done, the different kinds
of music that weve created. Its remarkable,
really. I think a lot of people miss that. They
just look at it from album to album. But if you
look at the diversity and all the adventures that
Priest has had, its remarkable. I dont think
theres ever been, or will ever be, another metal
band that can make those kinds of things
happen, and make them stick. When you look
at what Priest did in terms of the great writing
and the experimentation that it pursued, there
were similar elements to what Queen was
doing. There is always a moment where you
can go further. Ive always believed that you
dont set rules for yourself. You should be pre-
pared to push and stretch and take risks. And
thats what that band did continuously.
Although in their mind, Queen werent taking
risks, they just continued to do what they do.
But they were carefree about what people
thought about where they went with their
music, and I just admire that.
But disagreements about direction reared
their head within Priest time and time again,
though given the bands reticence in interviews,
you rarely heard about them. All the time,
yeah. But thats the way it should be. You cant
Warren Weaver
just sit down and nod your head and go, Yeah,
OK, lets do this. Youve got very strong charac-
ters and personalities in any successful band. I
dont care who they are. Its never smooth
sailing. Its always about pushing for what you
want to hear, and what you want to try, and get-
ting the other person to think the same way as
you do, to make a good song better. That was
always the approach. We always said, Well, OK,
Im not quite getting this yet, but lets work on
it a bit and wed massage it and make it com-
plete. One thing I do recall is that over all my
time with Priest, when we went into the studio,
we said, Lets start from scratch. Lets see what
we can do with new ideas, although we would
pull a riff from a previous Friday and work it
into something new. But essentially it was OK,
its a new record, lets start fresh.
Running Wild comes next in Hell Bent for
Leathers canny sequence, and you can pair this
one with Rock Forever as a crystallized, com-
pact statement of metal intent, the band
coming up with a gorgeous-yet-brief rocker
light on its feet, efficient of construction.
Before the Dawn is the records token ballad,
and it at least retains the somber nature of
Priest and what the band was busy building.
Not unlike The Last Rose of Summer, or
more so anything funereal and quiet from Sab-
bath, why this was picked as a single is a bit of
a mystery.
Hell Bent for Leather closes with Evil Fan-
tasies, another lumbering Sabbatharian
number in tone and tune with Killing
Machine, earlier on the same side. Again, the
band is confident enough to play very slowly,
rife with spaces and pregnant pauses. Top-notch
riffs are all over the place, as they are on the rest
of this solid but varied and well-sequenced
record. The songs almost Nazareth-like double
time finale is an excellent way to close out this
bruising, insistent, dynamic record. Priest could
here we are, the ultimate metalheads
They always say you can get
sucked up into your own ass
if youre not careful in the
recording studio. And theres
a lot of truth in that.
Warren Weaver
no longer be ignored, and with what they had
single-handedly accomplished for the genre,
neither could heavy metal, which was about to
enjoy ten intense years of commercial success.
Hitting the road, however, Priest would be
in support of a record that had hit a mere #34
on the U.K. charts and a paltry #128 on
Americas Billboard rankings. It was not for
lack of trying; the label floated a variety of
singles. Evening Star was issued, backed with
a live version of Beyond the Realms of Death
(from the Agora in Cleveland, May 9, 1978);
the band was rewarded with a #53 placement
back home, with the nifty clear 12 version of
this one including Green Manalishi as its
third track. The U.S. chart placement on this
one was #67. Then there was Before the
Dawn, backed with Rock Forever. Take on
the World featured Starbreaker live as its
flip, from that same Cleveland show, reaching
#14 stateside (the U.K. 12 issue included a live
version of White Heat, Red Hot). Into May of
79, CBS issued Rock Forever, backed with
Green Manalishi. One might argue that until
Rock Forever was trotted out, CBS had given
priority to the three worst tracks on the record.
Still, quite soon, estimates had the new album
tripling the sales of Stained Class.
Lip-synched videos from Top of the Pops
were produced to support Take on the World
and Evening Star, the latter receiving a cheap
Christmas-ornament-style star for onstage
spice. Lip-synched live footage of Take on the
World was also whipped up, as were
staged/semi-live clips for Rock Forever and
Killing Machine.
Recalls Ian, Evening Star was out of the
blue, really. It was an album track, and CBS
decided that it was commercial enough for a
single, so we ended up on Top of the Pops,
playing it. On two [occasions] when we did
Top of the Pops, we were playing our home-
town, Birmingham, on the same evening. And
on both occasions we were late. They forgave
us the first time, but I dont think they ever for-
gave us the second time, the following tour,
when exactly the same thing happened. They
said, Well get you on first; well record your
part first, and youll be able to get back.
Because obviously, the recording was in
we just treated him like a
normal human being, the way
gay people should be treated.
Warren Weaver
London at the BBC studios there. And the last
time, they had helicopters and aircraft standing
by, but the weather was too bad. It was a night-
mare really [laughs]. We were a good couple of
hours late. But the audience, God bless them,
they sort of sat there and waited for us.
For the Top of the Pops version of Take on
the World, the miming was obvious. Rob claps
(his wrist!) while holding the mic loosely to his
lips and Les Binks is barely touching his
drums. Glenn can be seen working on his red
leather image, but it is Rob who has really
moved it along, looking a bit like a Nazi
brownshirt whos combined the fashion sense
of his superiors with nods to S&M. K.K. looks
fairly metal in big black leather boots, but both
Les and Ian . . . well, they could have dropped
in from a Nashville hootenanny.
But there was no bullwhip. Donnie and
Marie Osmond were scheduled for the same
episode and Marie had said that it was either
the whip or them, despite Rob charming Marie
in the dressing room, telling her she didnt
need any makeup, that she looked great
without it.
For Evening Star, Rob is now clean-shaven,
with his hair bleached almost blond. But hes
decked in leather, as are K.K. and Glenn, who is
sporting his red pants, black jacket, white shoes
look. Rob had said he always had had a problem
with the bands wimpy attire, butted up against
such loud, forceful music. Fed up with stealing
things out of his sisters closet, it dawned on
him that two worlds he was a part of the
heavy metal and the homosexual wore the
same clothes. Into a leather shop in London
called Mr. S, and the proprietors started loading
Rob and K.K. up with gear that sent the image
even further into the world of S&M. Priests
trademark look was born.
Well, we all knew he was gay, explains Ian,
on this interesting dimension Priest shared
with Queen, and we just treated him like a
normal human being, the way gay people
should be treated. Thats about as far as it goes.
Its probably the worst kept secret in rock n roll
[laughs]. To be perfectly honest, I dont know if
people were that particularly interested. I mean,
what Rob eventually did, by announcing it to
everybody, whats the big deal?
In the artistic world, sexuality means
absolutely fuck all, adds K.K. If you have an
artistic temperament, you have an under-
standing about a lot of things. And its just
been there from day one. Weve done so much
traveling and roughing it. Jesus Christ, we used
to sleep in the back of the van in Norway and
Sweden and Germany, and we used to clean
our teeth all together in the fucking snow. We
here we are, the ultimate metalheads
Warren Weaver
were all doing the same thing and it just wasnt
an entity, know what I mean?
Both Rob and Glenn have spoken repeat-
edly about the empowering quality of putting
on the gear and hitting the stage, the synergy
that happens when the costume and the music
come together. Toward that end, the leathers
keep getting heavier and the studs keep multi-
plying, even to this day, near to the point of
distraction, especially when it comes to Rob
and his celebrated mirror n metal jacket. Rob
has also stressed that given the competition in
the world of rock n roll, if you dont have
great songs as well as an instantly identifiable
image, youre going to be dead in the water.
Back on the Killing Machine tour, image was
helping spice things up. Robs use of his whip
in Genocide had one critic up in arms
thinking Rob was actually whipping the audi-
ence eventually there were buttons being
circulated that said I was whipped by Rob
Halford.Genocide also, for a brief time, fea-
tured Rob firing off blanks from a real machine
gun, the stage winding up littered with shell
casings. It was all too much for fire marshalls
and the prop was short-lived.
The U.K. tour began in late October 78,
and was pretty much intensive until November
24. In terms of a set list, much of the album
would get played, save for the surprise deletion
of Evening Star, along with Killing Machine
and Before the Dawn (understandable in
both cases), and Burnin Up, a bit of a sur-
prise as well, given that tracks sturdy melody
and metal heft. An interesting wrinkle was the
persistence of White Heat, Red Hot, a deep
album track from Stained Class nestled in the
middle of the set.
Four dates in Japan were notched in mid-
February, from which the live Unleashed in the
East album would be cut. After that, through
to May 6, America was assaulted, with Priest
grouped with a host of bands struggling in
and around their level, including Pat Travers,
Point Blank, Wireless, Angel and UFO, the
latter two verified as headlining over Priest.
Back in the U.K. in late May, Priest were sup-
ported by NWOBHM oddballs Marseille,
flipping back into support position for their
jaunt with AC/DC in Europe.
In Dublin, Ireland, July 1, 1979, as direct
support on a four-band bill to Status Quo,
Priest were in a standoff with the local
authorities over the use of the motorcycle.
The police thought that it might incite vio-
lence, but Rob proved them wrong by
bringing it out anyway, with no repercussions
other than a happy headbanging crowd get-
ting exactly what they wanted.
Back on the road in America, Priest sup-
ported Kiss in the fall of 79, for the first month
of a two-and-a-half month second U.S. leg.
Kiss records werent selling so well anymore,
but the shows were still huge and hugely suc-
cessful. K.K. remembers the situation some-
what that way, noting that Kiss were on the
wane and Priest seemed to be on the rise, inti-
mating that the pairing might have underlined
the idea that a changing of the guard had been
set in motion. Evidence of Priests rise was
select triumphant solo dates, including three
sold-out nights at L.A.s Starwood Club,
standing room only at New Yorks Mudd Club
and two sold-out nights at Torontos fabled El
Mocambo. In any event, Priest said that Kiss
in particular Paul Stanley was quite cordial,
in contrast to bands like Ted Nugent and
Foghat, the latter not offering a single word of
encouragement. Eddie Van Halen was singled
out as quite friendly as well from those days,
the guitar master intimating that Van Halen
used to play Victim of Changes in their set as
they were coming up through the clubs.
Fortuitously for all involved, September 24,
1979, Priest was to hook up with Harley
Davidson, Rob debuting in Milwaukee with a
Harley for the first time, this being the area
where Harleys are manufactured. Previously
the band had used a Triumph Bonneville, but
Harley was in a slump, getting ready to mount
its much celebrated and publicized ascension
to the intense brand recognition it enjoys
today, and was looking for ideas. Priests man-
agement, Arnakata, was able to buy Robs first
Harley for a single dollar, and a marriage made
in heavy metal heaven was born.
here we are, the ultimate metalheads
(CBS, September 79)
Side 1
Running Wild
The Ripper
The Green Manalishi
(with the Two-Pronged Crown)
Side 2
Diamonds and Rust
Victim of Changes
There willalways be rumors
Unleashed in the East
Judas Priests first live album, Unleashed
in the East Live in Japan, was to place
Robs S&M image and the ultimate
heavy metal prop Robs ride firmly
in mind as the visual actualization of
Priest all they stood for, metal all the
way, hell bent for leather.
We just got on with our own thing, says
Ian Hill, asked whether there was direct kin-
ship with the burgeoning New Wave of Heavy
Metal, a profusion of bands exploding the
same year Unleashed launched Priest into
wider rock n roll consciousness. We didnt
feel part of a movement or anything. We were
aware of other bands playing heavy music, but
we didnt feel any sort of affinity with them. We
were quite happy that the genre was becoming
popular, but other than that, we just got on it.
The bands first Harley was given away in
a contest a year after its heavy metal use. Rob
claims to still have the second one proffered,
although an early bike was also on loan to
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
At the height of their fame in the early 80s,
the band visited the Harley Davidson offices
and was presented with custom leather
jackets for all they had done to elevate the
name of the brand.
But Priest was still, courageously, mainly
about the music. While firing on all sixes with
what are now considered no less than four of
the greatest heavy metal albums of all time, the
band briefly touched down in Japan to record
this landmark live album.
Unleashed in the East would find Priest
making an important hook-up, namely Tom
Allom, who was brought in to produce the
album, as much as a live album could be pro-
duced. Allom was signed to the same
management company as Priest, and had been
involved with the first four Sabbath records.
Tom explains that his early assignments tended
to be with bands managed by the Arnakata,
these including Strawbs and The Tourists.
Tipton has said that it took a few rounds at the
pub to get in sync with Allom, the hard luck,
rockscrabble upbringing of the band chafing
against Alloms upper-middle-class sensibili-
ties, Tipton adding however that Allom turned
out to be an asset due to his diplomacy with
competing band members, and his ability to
get sounds.
Another key happenstance would be that
the album would be mixed at Ringo Starrs
Ascot-based Startling Studios (Starr had
bought it from John Lennon), soon to be the
cradle of the bands breakthrough album,
We were all ready to start
ranting and raving when about
30 guys in white overalls
turned up. Before we knew it,
everything was up.
British Steel. Like the ubiquitous Manor
Studios owned by Richard Branson, this
facility was housed in a mansion nestled in
acres of countryside, the perfect setting for a
band wishing to re-focus and retool.
In any event, the retooling would come
later. For now, Priest was all about under-
scoring all that had come before, presenting
with all their hard-won experience an aston-
ishing raft of great metal songs performed with
formidable skill and explosive intensity.
Unleashed in the East would contain eight
Priest classics, but in Japan, the album
rechristened Priest in the East and with altered
cover art came with a bonus EP of fully a
third more tracks cut from the same cloth.
Fortunately, Rock Forever, Delivering the
Goods, Hell Bent for Leather and
Starbreaker would be issued as bonus tracks
when Sony reissued all of the Columbia
albums in 2001. Initial shipments of the album
in the U.K. also included an EP, featuring three
tracks, Rock Forever, Hell Bent for Leather
and Beyond the Realms of Death, the latter
also showing up as a b-side to Rock Forever
two years later. Finally, Evil Fantasies would
show up as the b-side on a Living After Mid-
night 12 in 1980. Take on the World and
White Heat, Red Hot are the only set list
inclusions that remain unissued.
Recalled Glenn of that inaugural round-
the-world trek, That was a trip and a half. It
took us 14 hours to get there, and by the time
we arrived, we were totally exhausted. The first
gig was in Tokyo, and when we got to the hall,
none of it was set up. We were all ready to start
ranting and raving when about 30 guys in
white overalls turned up. Before we knew it,
everything was up.
Mused Halford, Japan is still one of the
most fascinating countries in the world that
Ive ever been to, and I find it remarkable that
heavy metal is so big there. In those days, we
used to start the show with our backs to the
audience and a stage full of dry ice. As the cur-
tain went up, all these bouquets of flowers,
presents, balloons and streamers came flying
across. When we turned around, it was like
The original Unleashed in the East is usually
the lone single-record disc that shows up on
the lists of greatest heavy metal live albums of
all time journalists (myself included) crank out
periodically. The others, as Ive alluded to
earlier, are all doubles, namely UFOs Strangers
in the Night, Thin Lizzys Live and Dangerous,
Blue yster Cults On Your Feet or on Your
Knees, Scorpions Tokyo Tapes, and of course,
Kiss Alive! In contrast, Priest keeps it tight,
taut, rock-solid, yet bullet-barraged and
worked with fire, which must have helped push
the album to unexpected chart placements
#10 in the U.K. and #70 in the U.S.
The record starts fast, with a carnal, much
less polite version of Exciter.Running Wild
As the curtain went up, all
these bouquets of flowers,
presents, balloons and
streamers came flying across.
When we turned around,
it was like Beatlemania!
is a surprise second selection, the band then
settling in with The Ripper and Sinner,
then pummeling the kidneys with Green
Manalishi. Requisite hit Diamonds and Rust
gets as heavy as it can which is not very. Still,
this arguable low point was issued as a single,
backed with Starbreaker. Finally, the Sad
Wings trilogy, Victim of Changes,Genocide
(with pointless extended intro) and Tyrant,
finish off the crowd.
When all was said and done, aside from the
records above, no greater one hour of extreme
metal classics had ever been assembled to date.
Sabbath could have done it, yet at that point,
they didnt have a live record. And then again,
one wonders if at any point in their career they
could have executed with this much flash.
Deep Purple could have done it, but through
two live records they chose to attach them-
selves to the dreary early 70s template, offering
boring jams doubly lethal when stuffed into
some of their sleepiest numbers. Zeppelin and
Rainbow charted the same course, and thus
The Song Remains the Same and On Stage are
usually banished from the A-list. Although, to
be fair, a large and vocal throng cites Made in
Japan by Deep Purple as something special
(unfathomable to this writer).
Still, shoving Priest into that double record
pack, it was obvious which band represented a
new guard. Amusingly, Priest were as old and
experienced as any of them, but the band,
through hard luck, ended up being forced to
shape their sound in the corridors, spending
five years traveling the motorways before put-
ting out a debut album, and then, in doing so,
making a pretty good one.
Very little! is Glenn Tiptons response to
accusations that the record was heavily doc-
tored and not that live at all (earning the
nickname Unleashed in the Studio). This
rumor came out initially because . . . why there
was work done on it was because when Rob did
it, he was sick; he had a cold. And we really had
to give the vocals a little bit of attention, which
is unusual, because Rob has a great voice. But
he sung that show and he really had the flu. So
he did a little bit of work, not a lot, on the vocal
side of it. And we touched a couple of guitars
up, but very, very little. And this rumor came
out that it had been redone in the studio. But if
you listen to it, you can tell it wasnt. It really
caught Priest as they were, as they played in
Japan in 78. All in all, it was a great live album,
and a very honest live album. Some people
strip everything off and then put it back on
again. We wouldnt do that. But there will
always be rumors.
To be fair, ardent Priest fans have compared
the recording with a bootleg of the February
15th show and found it to be quite similar to
the finished album. However Rob had been
spotted back at Startling Studios out on the
patio, with headphones on, singing away, and
the rumors caught fire from there. Issue has
even been taken with the crowd noise, but
again, a comparison with the bootleg shows a
similar idiosyncratic Japanese crowd sound.
The cover art, however, was indeed done
back home. It bears the handiwork of top
snapper Fin Costello, who is said to have con-
ducted the session at Dunstable Civic Hall in
front of a bunch of old age pensioners playing
bingo! An interesting wrinkle is that Les Binks
isnt pictured. This was because at the time of
the shoot, he had already been ousted from the
band. Notes Ian, He was a fine drummer, Les.
But I dont know, I think he had run his course.
I think he was a little bit tired with it, all the
road work we did. Hed had enough I think
[laughs]. Hed moved on. Thats the polite face
on it, but another reason for the split and
only a shade stronger is that Les wasnt all
that powerful live. A studied listen to
Unleashed in the East doesnt proffer any indi-
cation of this, and if Binks does indeed lack
power or groove, he certainly makes up for it in
matching the bands sense of flair, whack for
whack. Sure, theres that bizarre lost-my-mind
disco beat in Starbreaker (which isnt even
part of the original album), but other than
that, Les is a huge part of Unleasheds wow and
prowess. Other reasons floated over the years
for Les departure include a mysterious eye
injury, the thought that his style was upstaging
the rest of the band and finally, demands for
more pay.
Still, the party line ossifies in the minds of
those who were there, such as Glenn: Les was a
fantastic drummer, you know. If I had to criti-
cize Les, I think technically he was capable of
playing anything. And he stepped into the situ-
ation and filled the gap admirably. But he didnt
He was a vegetarian. . .that maybe
didnt ring too well in the priest
camp.were big meat eaters here.
quite lay it down enough on stage. It was in
time and it was note-perfect, but there was . . . I
think for what Priest needed, just a slight lack of
physical energy there. And I think that is even-
tually why we parted company. But funnily
enough, I met someone the other day who
knew Les, and none of us can really identify the
moment when Les left, or when he didnt leave.
You know, there is a strong possibility that Les
could still be with us, because none of us is
really sure when we parted company. He was a
vegetarian, too, and that maybe didnt ring too
well in the Priest camp [laughs]. Were big meat
eaters here.
Adds Halford, Les involvement came
about off the back of the work that Simon
Phillips did for us on the Sin After Sin album.
Simon Phillips is a very technical, very inven-
tive drummer. And the two previous
drummers we worked with, John Hinch and
Edmund Varuolo/
Alan Moore, were very kind of straight down
the road, very economic, simple, tasteful
drummers. And I think the reason we got so
excited about using somebody out of the
Simon Phillips style of drumming was that we
could just see again, at least at that time from
the writing point of view, the advantage of
having a drummer that could be very flam-
boyant and busy and hitting a lot of things,
that kind of approach. So Les was with us for
two albums, Stained Class and Killing Machine.
After we had been through those two writing
modes, and we eventually had the experience
and hooked up with Tom Allom, the band was
suddenly writing in this British Steel format.
There was just this feeling that we wanted to
get back, if you will, to that very simple, steady,
solid, almost Bonham-esque style of drum-
ming. And we found all of those things we
needed in Dave Holland.
Some people strip everything
off and then put it back on again.
We wouldnt do that. But there
willalways be rumors.
British Steel
(CBS, April 80)
Side 1
Rapid Fire
Metal Gods
Breaking the Law
Side 2
You Dont Have to be Old to be Wise
Living After Midnight
The Rage
The robot scythes and
the laser-beaming hearts
and the molten breath
British Steel
With the exclamation point of the live
album out of the way, Priest set about
making new inroads into accessibility.
Finances were dire, despite the tri-
umphant signals the front cover of
Unleashed in the East might insistently
emit (still Unleasheds sales were said to
have doubled those of Hell Bent for
Leather). Reaching back one studio
album, Hell Bent for Leather might con-
ceivably be viewed as a first step toward
some far-off songfulness that would
finally garner the band some sales, but it
would be the bands fateful association
with producer Tom Allom that would
unlock a box filled with the psyches of a
headbanging army of fans latent for years
and now ready to burst with pride. Indeed
Allom had just recorded Def Leppards
competent and youthful On Through the
Night debut at the same homey home
studio he was taking Priest into, so the
vibe was there to take Priest commercial.
I think it was one of the simplest records
that we made, says Halford of British Steel,
understating the fact by a multitude of multi-
ples. At that point we were all on the same
page; we were all thinking in the same way.
Because that album is literally written from
scratch. So it wasnt a case like, where in some
of the other instances, we would sit at home
with our tape recorders and come in together
and throw our ideas on the table. With British
Steel, we really wrote that together. That was
the first time that me and Ken and Glenn wrote
as a trio, as opposed to in pairs. And when we
saw how successful that was, and how much
fun we were having doing that, we decided
from that point on to write as a trio. But the
friction still existed in that healthy competitive
manner. Ken and Glenn both had and still
have two very different styles of guitar
playing. So it was just a question of give and
take, really. I mean, I can only speak as an
observer. I would never put words into their
mouths, but just from what I experienced,
there was just this constant type of situation of
essentially wanting to do the best things, but
having that kind of healthy, robust competitive
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
edge in what one would present to the other
and back and forth [laughs]. It was like a tennis
match, volleying riffs at each other.
As for Tom Alloms production job, British
Steel indeed taking a mere four weeks to
record, Rob explains that as far as the end
result is concerned, you are responsible for the
final things that come out of the speakers as
much as the producer. Because at the end of
the day you kind of nod your head and give it
the green light and say, Thats good; lets move
on to the next track. But I mean, producers
have their own style and way of capturing the
sound. Thats why we were so thrilled to work
with Tom. He suddenly came along and cap-
tured all of the dimensions that we felt were
right for the sound we were creating, and thats
why we had such a long experience with him.
Rob has also said that the sound of the
album has an almost stainless-steel quality
about it, and that the album was to the point,
sharp and direct. Tom Allom further claimed
that the albums lively sound (really?) came
from the fact that he and the band quickly
decided that the confines of the studio itself
wouldnt work. On a search for sounds, they
fanned out, recording in various rooms of the
manse, with the expansive marble-floored
hallway becoming key for the drum sound,
hanging ambient mics and all.
Comments K.K. on Tom and his methods,
He would rearrange the songs. Tom was the
type of producer who would, if he particularly
could, make a song simpler and punchier and
to the point he was more that way inclined.
We only had about six weeks to record the
album, so that was conducive to getting the job
done. And yes, sound-wise, we actually
recorded the drums in the staircase, as you
would, really, to get the best ambience and
room sound. It was kind of weird really,
because I was in the library, I think Glenn was
in the dining room, Dave was in the staircase.
We were all split up in these different rooms for
separation. But I really liked it in the library,
because it had a wooden floor, which is fan-
tastic for guitar playing, any room with plenty
of wood. So you get these really nice warm real
sounds. Its kind of weird, youve got your head-
phones on and you can hear everybody talking,
but youre spread out all over the house.
Unsurprisingly then, the guitars sounded
good, even great. Even if theres a certain lack
of warmth from the drums, and maybe not
enough bass on British Steel, to be fair, Tom
Alloms idea was to get the guitars up front and
prominent. Another key hard rock producer of
the era, Tom Werman, acted in much the same
way, diminishing, arguably intentionally,
thump and thunder for the electricity of a
supercharged guitar (or two or three or five).
To that end, as they suggested, both K.K. and
Glenn record in large rooms for what they con-
sidered a live or raw sound, with close mic-ing
as well as mics placed 20-odd feet away. K.K.
joked that he spent the whole month in the
the robot scythes and the laser-beaming
hearts and the molten breath
when we saw how successful
that was, and how much fun
we were having doing that,
we decided from that point
on to write as a trio.
library, and not with any good books to read
either. Only poor Ian was in the actual studio.
Tom was just a bundle of fun, adds Ian,
and he was a great producer. We had a great
time with him, mainly in bars [laughs]. No
practical jokes. I dont think anybody pulled
anybodys leg, really. Apart from, I dont
know, not spiking your drink, but putting
ketchup or something in your Bloody Mary.
Additional hijinks included fishing in Ringos
swimming pool and riding motorcycles
around his garden.
But, says Ian, neither Tom, nor new
straight-eight drummer Dave Holland, nor
anybody at Columbia, had been the major
factor behind British Steels stark simplicity
versus previous records. There have been very
few extra forces. Obviously Ken and Rob and
Glenn write most of the songs, but its all very
straight out of their heads rather than being
pushed into it one way or another via any-
body. The only influence weve ever had is
when somebody else would suggest doing a
cover version, and then its been left up to us
which one to do and what we do with it. And
the commercial tracks . . . like I say, they
werent consciously recorded as commercial
tracks they were album tracks. Weve never
set out to do a single. We just got on with it
and played what we felt. And like I say, we left
that up to the record company. If there was a
commercial track on there, they would obvi-
ously put it out as a single. British Steel was a
bit of a landmark. It was the first album that
we headlined in the States. We had opened for
different bands and special-guested until that
point, with the net result that up until then, it
was the most popular album, the biggest seller.
And in fact I think it outsold Point of Entry. It
was an important album but again, just a
progression from Hell Bent.
British Steel was an album that we actually
wrote a lot of in the studio, recalls Glenn. We
did it in a very short amount of time, went into
Tittenhurst Park, which was Ringos house, and
I think we wrote probably about 40 percent of
that when we were in the studio. We dont nor-
mally do that, but it did work out really well
because British Steel was a classic album. The
studio was available because Ringo had ended
up moving to France, due to the crazy British
income tax laws that turned many rock stars
into tax exiles. Rather than letting it sit empty,
he decided to rent it out as a working studio.
Weve never set out to do a
single.We just got on with it
and played what we felt.
British Steel was classic, yes, but decidedly
commercial compared to all that came before.
At the time of its birth to the public, it was
actually a sharp shock to the party faithful
considerably less note-dense, all the bitty parts
gone, no flash drumming on display, lyrics
teenaged, hot and bothered.
The biggest shock came with advance single
Living After Midnight, unleashed on the
public in March of 1980, one month before the
album proper. Like a stinging slap in the face,
this modest anthem emerged from radios the
world over with bravado, yes, but framed as
little more than a Kiss song. Band lore has it
that Tipton had been working on the riff
through the wee hours (two or three Marshall
stacks are mentioned could it be anything
but?) while Rob slept away in the bedroom
directly above the studio, only to emerge in the
morning worse for wear, but with a lyric that
came to him in his sleep.
We were expected to do a commercial
track, says Hill, dangerously close to contra-
dicting earlier statements. And Rob had this
great lyric, living after midnight. And it just
fell into place. It was one of those things. It was
one of those tracks that was worked on with an
eye to being commercial and radio-friendly,
and it turned out to be a very popular track. Its
still in the set today [laughs]. Thats one of the
tracks you cant drop. People will go to the live
show expecting to hear that, and if you dont
play it, theyll walk away disappointed.
The song is indeed an anthem, and back in
1980 was a smash hit, the calling card that was
presented to prospective buyers of this new
version of Priest, a band for the 80s. It was
indeed the happiest song the band had written
to date, and who can fault making people
happy? It also had a catchy, very simple groove,
one that wouldnt be out of place at an AC/DC
show. Glenn and K.K. fully admit that the song
is less sophisticated than much of their ma-
terial, but that its a blast to play live, which
translates over to the audience. It excites on
other levels as well. The end result success in
America was an intoxicant. The guys just
loved how they could hear the song playing on
the robot scythes and the laser-beaming
hearts and the molten breath
stereos and on radios across the expanse over-
seas, and how, subtly, the sentiment of the song
was more of an American thing than British
this idea of being relentless, being possessed by
a determination to have a good time and in the
process, going all night long, then disappearing
like a Wild West hero. As K.K. is wont to say,
Who says you cant sing along to the Priest?
Invited to headbang with abandon, one
almost forgets certain aspects of the songs
construction, namely that the verse riff is
pretty heavy, and that in actuality, it starts with
the chorus, rather than the verse. Also, the song
is opened by the bands new drummer, Dave
Holland, alone, a man who would become the
lightning rod in the band concerning this issue
of paring down, or at the negative end,
dumbing down.
Looking back, after years of conditioning
from drum tornado Scott Travis, Glenn com-
ments that Dave is a very solid drummer, but
he never had the ability to operate fast kick-
pedal patterns, which, you know, we did suffer
from, theres no doubt about that. But when it
came to laying down tracks like Living After
Midnight, he was a very solid drummer.
Holland had joined Priest in August of 1979
at the age of 31. Citing Johnny Kidd & The
Pirates and jazz as early influences, Holland
started on piano but got his first drum set
when he was ten years old. Debuting with a
psychedelic band called Pinkertons Assorted
Colours, Hollands main pre-Priest gig was
with Glenn Hughes in Trapeze, for which he
recorded all of the original studio albums plus
later live material. On the side, he guested for
Justin Hayward, Glenn Hughes, and in the
middle of his Priest run, Robin George.
We auditioned drummers for Trapeze,
begins Glenn Hughes, asked to assess Holland
as a drummer. We were called Finders Keepers
before, and Dave was in that band with the
ridiculous name it was a pop band, and they
had a big hit in England. Dave is an amazingly
good orchestrated arranging drummer. Hes
really funky, unlike what you would imagine
for Judas Priest, which is a really great band.
But in Trapeze he was a really great arranger of
great songs. In Priest, you know, I think Glenn
Tipton ran that band on the musical side. Rob
obviously was very in control of the vocals. But
the music is run by Glenn Tipton. In Trapeze,
Dave was a great drummer. I think for Priest,
he wasnt. I mean, I think on a couple of tracks
he was, but hes certainly greater on the
Trapeze stuff. I mean, Dave spoke to me many
times about . . . I think he had a lot to do with
the arrangements of some of the songs for
Judas Priest. Dave is really good at that.
Dave was always a good drummer, adds
Trapeze lyricist Tom Galley. Strange style
he just belted. But if youve ever watched him,
you were always wondering whether he was
the robot scythes and the laser-beaming
hearts and the molten breath
going to come out of the roll sometimes,
because hes got a strange technique. But what-
ever he was, live he was great, recording he was
very good.
Again, whether it was Hollands dead-plain
drumming or a host of other signals, British
Steel was simply all right there, plain for all to
see. Even a speed metaller like Rapid Fire is
drummed stripped-down and old school, in
lockstep with the songs smeary, almost
dreary riffing. The production agrees Hol-
lands drums are dry, and there is a dearth of
bass. Only Halford is exerting himself, spit-
ting out his words like a drill sergeant, having
a ball with what he calls his Olivier moment,
being Shakespearean, being a Brummie, even
going so far as to make up a word, desoli-
sating. However, the break section is
infinitely guitary, with K.K. and Glenn
turning in one of their patented shredding
trade-off solos, separated geometrically by
Robs vocal. According to plan, the song does
stick to the memory circuits, aided by Robs
flash lyric that marries his old sci-fi themes to
characteristics of heavy metal.
Metal Gods is another song that demon-
strates the directness of the new Priest, but with
solid success. Hollands two-fisted high-hat
beat supports handily an instantly memorable
riff, which turns dark and increasingly heavy
for the songs sturdy pre-chorus. Halford again
is thespian, fully convincing, yet the song closes
with an extended musical passage oer which
the metal gods themselves do battle. Says Ian of
the clashing sword effect, That was us drop-
ping a cutlery tray, plus there was a golf club
making swishing noises, banging of radiators,
and dropping bottles, which was in Breaking
the Law. All sorts of stuff went on there. It was
the dawning of production pieces.
Breaking the Law was in fact spruced up
by the boys dropping some of Ringos beer and
milk bottles out back on the patio. The siren in
the same track is produced entirely by K.K. on
his guitar, through bends on his Strat. Rob was
particularly pleased with the outcome of this
sequence, which, he says, tells the story with
sound, adding that he likes to do much the
same with his lyrics, paint a little picture that
leaps to another medium, such as the movies.
That was us dropping a cutlery
tray, plus there was a golf club
making swishing noises, banging of
radiators, and dropping bottles.
The thunder at the beginning of Metal
Gods was nothing more than the slamming of
a heavy door, magically transformed into
something more epic in the studio. The
swishing noise on the song was obtained by
Rob swinging a pool cue quickly, with Allom
twiddling a few knobs essentially increasing
the compression to get it up to a heroic,
godlike level. A whip effect proved problematic
for one of Robs own whips, so a guitar cable
was used instead, hit against a flight case.
The main effect in Metal Gods though, is
the repeated clashing sword sound, which, as
Ian has indicated, comes from trays of cutlery.
Tom Allom has in fact explained that it was
obtained by multi-tracking ten or 12 times, the
dropping of the cutlery tray on the stone floor
in Ringos kitchen, courtesy of himself and
Rob. Added in are some mic-stand spikes to
the floor with the base removed.
If there was ever a great song in metal and
if there was ever a metal anthem, it would have
to always be Metal Gods, says Rob, in his
amusingly verbose, circular manner of
speaking. Talking about the robot scythes and
the laser-beaming hearts and the molten
breath, its a great caricature for metal. Its
almost like an animation idea put under cover
of a piece of metal music. And when everyone
sings along with that song, I think they feel that
they are a metal god, too. Its just a great song
that connects with people on an emotional
metal level.
the robot scythes and the laser-beaming
hearts and the molten breath
One must suppose that Robs love for the
song also derives from the fact that he quickly
became known as The Metal God, just as
Glenn Hughes is called The Voice of Rock, or
Bruce Dickinson is deemed The Air Raid Siren.
Furthermore, Rob has talked about the song
being influenced by old horror movies, in par-
ticular Day of the Triffids, and monsters like the
Kraken. The idea was to imitate one of these
big robots stomping around, which is under-
scored by Robs robot walk onstage during the
song, that amusing bit of choreography tied to
the songs instrumental close thats always been
a highlight of any Priest concert.
If Living After Midnight was to be British
Steels fey calling card, it was Breaking the
Law which would emerge as the albums
biggest hit, its full-on anthem perhaps the
bands perennial key piece of magic up there
on the live stage. Backed with Metal Gods,
and served in a limited gatefold sleeve with
arch-NWOBHM patch, the song vaulted to #12
on the U.K. charts. Its tale of alienated youth fit
perfectly with post-punk Britain, the nation
having seen all too many years of economic
recession. Rob stresses the tracks universal
relevance, that it is a song about being prom-
ised that all these things will come through
working hard, finishing school and whatnot,
and then finding that success isnt achievable
so you break the law.
A campy, lighthearted video for the track
courtesy of Sex Pistols documenter Julien
Temple and with Rob looking like a natty
Joe Jackson helped underscore the punk
verve of the new Priest. This element was
wisely not emphasized, but nonetheless
brought up, Rolling Stone comparing the band
(or at least the energy of the band) to the
Ramones and the Damned.
The album cover also offered a bit of punk
in the form of a razor blade, although frankly
few Priest fans made that connection at the
time. Recalls Hill, I think the cover that
attracted the most discussion was British Steel
and the razor blade, only because it was a
symbol of the punk movement at the time,
which we obviously werent a part of. And
obviously its turned out to be one of the
classic Priest covers, instantly recognizable. But
there was some concern about that, that maybe
people would think we turned to punk.
The British Steel cover was the work of CBS
artist Roslav Szaybo, returning to heavy duty
after his iconic image for Killing Machine.
Along the lines of the band name Metallica and
Venoms Black Metal title for their second
album, British Steel presumed a sort of last-
word-in-heavy-metal status for Priest. But it
was also the name of a steel company from the
Midlands, one in fact, that had employed a Mr.
Glenn Tipton for five years, Tipton recalling his
years there as drudgery in a grey, dour setting
not unlike something out of the industrial rev-
olution. Credit for the name goes to Ian Hill,
who says that the steel workers were on strike at
the time and he was seeing the name British
Steel everywhere. Rob pushed the overall con-
cept along by noticing the name Sheffield Steel
on some razor blades that he had.
Besides the aforementioned punk connec-
tion, additional controversy came in the idea
that the razor blade on the cover was actually
cutting into the hand. The imagery was toned
down, and rendered without blood (or at least
in shadow), to the deft point where one could
see it both ways as a hand merely holding
the blade, or the blade beginning to slice into
the fingers. A subtle point made by the band in
various interviews was that a bonus implica-
tion was that, given the lack of blood, it was
safe to be into this kind of music.
Breaking the Law would be instrumental
in pushing British Steel gold, the bands first
record of metal, hitting that plateau within
two years of its release, with official platinum
designation not to come until 1989. Of note,
the songs prominence was recognized early: it
was the opening track on the original vinyl
issue of the album, but Rapid Fire gets the
the robot scythes and the laser-beaming
hearts and the molten breath
Edmund Varuolo/
Chris Walter/Photofeatures
pole position on later reissues. The album rose
to #4 on the British charts and #34 on
Billboard, Priest finally finding a spot of suc-
cess on which to hang their hats. And
Breaking the Law was the soundtrack to that
success, its slightly mournful, poignant
melody, its pulsation and verve, and its various
sections the next always raising the stakes
combining with the bands new plainspeak
attitude to form what is arguably Priests first
highway song. Again, the widely seen video
reinforces this road song aspect, with the band
singing along while driving to make a heist at
Barclays bank, packing guitars instead of guns,
going after gold records instead of money. The
overall effect is indeed a sing-along, with pro-
ducer Allom even going so far as to say that the
song has a pop groove to it.
Breaking the Law is just one of the great
metal songs of all rock n roll, muses Rob. It
will be as strong as it was when it was created
in 80, 81, and here we are 20 years later
playing that song at Rock in Rio, and all the
people are singing it word for word. And it just
says everything about what rock n roll repre-
sents. Its a real high energy, anarchic,
gang-type number. It just brings everybody
together because of what it talks about, namely
that we go through our early stages in life and
we feel that we are being made a lot of prom-
ises, and then when those promises are broken,
we react, and thats something I think everyone
can relate to. Its a fun song, too. It has a serious
tone but its a great, fun song to experience and
Im aware that when I play that song around
the world it gets an incredible reaction.
Grinder is another classic of heavy metal
economy, with the band strutting along to an
insanely catchy back rhythm from Hill and
Holland, the lyric almost a continuation of the
character sketch plotted in Breaking the Law,
that of a young male cranked full of hormones
and ready to make his mark on the world.
Halford again growls menacingly, finding new
dimension and confidence in his multi-varied
voice. Twisted Sisters Dee Snider was one of
many metal legends on which Halford was to
make an impression, Snider perceptive in
noticing Robs rough side as well as the obvious
and penultimate soar above his roar: Halford
is a great singer, but I dont know if vocal
styling-wise, he was someone I really emulated.
The one thing I definitely learned . . . I came
from that era where high singing was what
people wanted to do; people wanted a high
singer. I got into Twisted Sister auditioning on
Led Zeppelin stuff. The more you sang high,
the better it was. I think Halford actually
started that way too, but he came to realize he
was more effective by staying low, and then
kicking it up, for accenting. As opposed to
Exciter, which is all high, and it just wears on
you, I looked at something like Grinder, and I
went, ah, I get this hes seasoning with his
high voice, and its more effective, so I really
learned that from Rob.
Reminiscing about hearing Priest for the
first time, Dee mentions Grinder again,
noting its effect on where the Twisted sound
the robot scythes and the laser-beaming
hearts and the molten breath
was to originate. It was probably Exciter that
I had heard in a club, back in like 78, 79, New
Jersey. And I thought, What the fuck is that?!
My God! We used to play that as our opening
track, our intro track for years, just because,
man, its one of the most intense songs. Fast as
a Shark is another one, Kill the King by
Rainbow I should make a list. So I started to
nose around, and it wasnt the one with
Exciter I bought, but it was Hell Bent for
Leather, with that album cover. That record,
with the shattered goggles and the blood
that record was just staggering. At that point I
really started to study them as a prototype of a
two-guitar band. Twisted Sister was a two
guitar band; there were two guitars joined, and
I dont think we had a role model per se, but
when Priest came along, we started to define
how the two guitars would be used. You know,
not playing two separate guitar parts like Aero-
smith or whatever, or Guns, which was later,
but playing unified guitar parts, doubling each
other, for the intensity, the effect of it. The per-
fect example is Grinder all of a sudden the
second guitar comes in, just as strength. So that
really helped define Twisted the way Priest
approached two guitars.
Glenns Grinder solo is particularly
tuneful, Rob commenting that many of
Tiptons patterns are near to a vocal, or a
singers pattern. As a result, says Glenn, the
solos become an integral part of the song for-
ever, and for the most part, cant be altered in a
live setting, given that punters will be
expecting to sing it in their heads, and in many
cases, hammer out a bit of air guitar to
reinforce the effect.
United saw the band doing Top of the Pops
again, and its an endearing video that emerges,
one that captures the ground floor excitement
Edmund Varuolo/
of the NWOBHM, here applied to and in
homage to one of the bands that built the
house, volunteering their services in a sense,
given the lack of pay Priest had had to endure
for well on a decade at this point. Tom Allom
called this one the records anthem. Even
though United emulated the trudge (and
drudge) of Take on the World and We Will
Rock You, Priest this time were smart enough
to place prominent guitar signposts along the
muddy path of the march. It speaks for itself,
really, United, says Ian. Stand together, the
camaraderie and all the rest of it. It was a good
source for a single because of the lyric content.
So the record company thought it might have
been a good idea to put it out. Backed with
Grinder, United rose to #26 in the U.K.
charts, adding further steam to British Steels
ascendance, the single issued on cue four
months after the release of the album proper.
Dont Have to be Old to be Wise (the
You was added for later reissues) parties it up
very much like Living After Midnight, both
tracks in essence anticipating the first wave of
hair metal to hit in 83, a couple years past the
launch of MTV. Again, Rob plays the role of a
jean-jacketed headbanger misunderstood and
ready to grab the reins of his own life. Rob sells
the argument effortlessly, while the band plods
along with a happy, humpy set of chords.
Grudgingly, old fans took to it, and new fans
showed up in droves, pumping their fists along
with this new everymans version of Priest.
Ian Hill goes reggae for the fleeting and
inconsequential opening sequence witnessed
the robot scythes and the laser-beaming
hearts and the molten breath
on The Rage, an underrated epic rocker, one
of the little-discussed tracks on British Steel.
Halford delivers an enigmatic lyric about some
sort of huge conflict, while the band Sabbath-
stomps toward . . . one more round of reggae.
The Rage was one of the last things whipped
up for the album, and the band definitely wel-
comed its sense of adventure, the guys all
joking that the lyrics were definitely grand,
even if no one Rob included knows what
theyre about. K.K.s solo is a bit of anomaly for
him, Downing calling it bluesy and emotional,
not his usual wild style. Glenn has called The
Rage one of his favorite Priest tracks of all
time, admiring the fact that it employs a key
Priest characteristic, this idea of a preceding
light passage bestowing upon a riff a greater
sense of power through contrast.
A sense of the album framed occurs, with
Steeler bookending Rapid Fire for OTT, or
over the top, content on the album, an essen-
tial double dose of speed metal, although, as
befitting British Steels safety features, mild
speed metal. Still, this one possesses more of a
carnal attack than Rapid Fire, especially given
some of the violent turns later in the track, past
the fairly benign root riff, the break signaling a
branching out into darker terrain, studded
with chopping riffs, wild soloing, and Robs
malevolent barking.
The British Steel tour would finally put
Priest over the top. Oddly, both Metal Gods
and Breaking the Law wouldnt be part of the
party, only getting added to the set list the fol-
lowing year. Even more oddly, Dont Have to
be Old to be Wise was firmly in there, as was
Steeler, along with the expected Living After
Midnight and Grinder.
Rob was sassy in longish blond hair as Priest
warmed up at home in March of 1980, leading
up to the release of the album with an ambi-
tious young band called Iron Maiden in tow
for early tour dates. Other than Rob exposing
himself onstage at The Rainbow on April 1, the
band being late for a gig yet again due to their
the robot scythes and the laser-beaming
hearts and the molten breath
Edmund Varuolo/
Living After Midnight Top of the Pops
filming, and Tipton trashing his equipment at
Sheffield Town Hall, the tour went off without
a hitch. West Germany and one gig each in
France and Belgium were next, but then, in
May, it was off to America, where Priest would
politely state their case and emphatically stake
their claim.
The U.S. tour would feature support from
Def Leppard and Scorpions, two bands that
went on to sell more records than Priest ever
would, something Iron Maiden, U.K. seat-
warmers from a couple months back, would
manage as well. May and June would find the
band making a Texas stand, before taking the
show west through June. A festival was logged
in St. Louis on June 29th. Called the Grand
Slam Super Jam, the bill featured Priest along
with Sammy Hagar, April Wine and Shooting
Star, none of the four acts all that big at the
time, but each with a hopeful pocket of fans
a career, so to speak. Into late July, Priest played
a handful of shows with Scorpions, Heart and
the drugged and doomed Joe Perry Project
supporting its very, very good Let the Music Do
the Talking debut.
Second-to-last date of the tour, August 16,
1980, was to be a highlight, Judas Priest playing
second on the bill to Rainbow on the very first
Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington.
New mates Scorpions and April Wine were
along for the ride, as were Saxon and U.S. baby
bands Riot and Touch, the latter no doubt
there because they shared Bruce Payne man-
agement with the headliners. It was a wet and
muddy day of new heavy metal, and with
Rainbow on the ropes with a less-than-classic
lineup, it was Priest that would win the day,
hands down.
the robot scythes and the laser-beaming
hearts and the molten breath
Point of Entry
(CBS, February 81)
Side 1
Heading out to the Highway
Dont Go
Hot Rockin
Turning Circles
Desert Plains
Side 2
Solar Angels
You Say Yes
All the Way
On the Run
Rob set his boots on fire
Point of Entry
All the rage in the early 80s was having
your radar up on whether your heavy
metal bands were selling out. And when
Point of Entry emerged, all melodic and
bouncy and demurring from any sort of
attack stance, a rapidly expanding new
army of punters wrinkled their noses,
still not having gotten over how the last
Led Zeppelin album we would ever hear
was stuffed full of keyboards.
So here was Priest waving hello again, the
first thing to hit radio being something called
Dont Go, which most certainly alerted ears
that something was afoul in the Priest camp, a
departure if you like, a point of entry. Indeed,
Glenn had said as much, intimating that this
new record was an introduction to Priest circa
the 80s, a Priest ready to shed their 70s moves.
The sessions, conducted in exotic Ibiza,
Spain, were actually fraught with difficulties.
The studio was situated way up a long and
treacherous driveway that only the bands high-
clearance rented Renaults could negotiate
without getting beached. The studio was in an
old farmhouse, and the owner was having
financial problems, so the place kept running
out of diesel fuel, which was needed to keep the
generator that provided the electricity going.
Add to this that water had to be brought in from
a well, and you had a charming scene indeed.
Out on the town, the band got into a bit of
a brawl in an upscale club with some Germans,
prompting the hunting horn/plastic trumpet
incident. Glenn picked up this trumpet that
was at the club and started playing it, much to
the chagrin of the tony patrons. Back on their
own turf, horn in their possession, Tom Allom
would be fed beer and cigarette butts through
it, drink it all down, and continue on with his
When the Saints Go Marching In refrain.
Asked whether there was pressure to go
more commercial with Point of Entry, Ian says,
it wasnt so much pressure. We always had
artistic license or artistic rights where if we
didnt want to do something, we didnt have to.
But these people do know their business. If
they come to us and say Listen, I dont think
theres anything on here thats going to get you
onto rock radio; how about trying this? well
obviously listen and pay attention to that. It
was only ever suggestions. That was the first
album we recorded in Ibiza. There were lots of
distractions, but I dont know about influences
[laughs]. We spent most of the time on the
beach, or in nightclubs, or driving motorcycles
We spent most of the
time on the beach, or in
nightclubs, or driving
motorcycles through
the mountains.
It was great fun.
through the mountains. It was great fun. So
maybe that influenced us.
I asked Ian if he would have wanted to be
included more in the writing process. Well, it
would be nice, yeah. But the thing is, there was
a great team there with Ken and Glenn and
Rob, and it worked well. You know what they
say: Too many cooks spoil the broth and all
that. So I backed off and let them get on with
it. Theres a great relationship there. They got
on with it and I was quite happy with what
they were coming up with. I could obviously
put my own bass lines to it, and the drummers
could put their own beats to it; everybody had
their own parts. But those three did a great job
and I saw no real reason to intrude on that.
We were all getting along really well. Were all
comparatively easygoing. There are no prima
donnas. The chemistry has been there all the
time, with the possible exception of drum-
mers, who keep leaving for some reason. But
its one of the major reasons weve been able
to keep it together for so long. If theres an
arsehole in the band, sooner or later hes going
to cheese somebody off and the bands going
to split.
Point of Entry was issued in February of
1981, with different album covers for Europe
and North America. Europe got an intriguing
and colorful sort of futuristic metal wing over
a horizon shot (or is that fire from an aircraft
engine?), designed by Roslav Szaybo, who had
done all the bands CBS albums to date. North
America got the artsy roll of computer paper in
the desert scene, designed by Columbia
Records John Berg, who later rose to a vice-
president at the label. The back of the North
American issue showed Hipgnosis-styled
a bunch of white cardboard boxes standing at
attention. The cover was stickered with a shot
of the band, so metalheads would get the point
that this austere scene was indeed the cover of
a new Judas Priest album.
Priest opened with a song that really told
the story of this whole album even though
structures were simple, relaxed, unshowy in the
extreme, the writing was fantastic. Heading
out to the Highway was truly one of those
dependable compositions that could conceiv-
ably be strummed on a lone acoustic guitar
with vocal and still sound good. Theres some-
thing country-and-western about it, or at least
something Wild West. Its a great track, this
records Breaking the Law, and its become a
lasting Priest anthem.
Anything we did in Ibiza was difficult,
laughs Tipton, asked about the album. Tech-
nically, it was because of the amount of alcohol
that was consumed. And we did have to finish
one off in America, where we got sane for a
little bit. Point of Entry was done there.
Screaming was started there, and Defenders was
started there, and then we had to go to a sen-
sible country to finish them.
You know, we never contrive a song, offers
Glenn, with respect to Heading out to the
Highway. We just sit down and write, and
they come from us. And theres never a reason
why we wrote a particular song. We sit down,
somebodys got a riff, and we kick it around
and put a vocal to it, its all very natural. And
that song is still a very perennial live song. But
I honestly like all the Priest stuff. I think the
album that most people would point out as
being the most different is Point of Entry. But
then again, youve got tracks like Hot Rockin,
Desert Plains, Solar Angels . . .
Indeed, the band had written a bunch of
songs back in London for the new album, but
then decided to scrap the whole lot and start
new it was deemed that the songs were
good, but not much different in tone than what
was on British Steel. Priest were again restless to
make a very different album commendable,
given the long-awaited breakthrough success
they had with British Steel.
Label folks noticed Heading out to the
Highway had a personable, soulful, wistful
quality and issued it as a single two months
after the albums release, but the song failed to
chart either side of the pond. The video for the
song was an endearing clip. Dave looks tidy
and new wavelike in his skinny tie and dress
shirt under leather jacket. Rob could pass for
an old punk. This was really the band at its
most charming. Marketing hadnt avalanched
in on the look. It was thrown together, it was
real, the guys were innocent. Interspersed are
If theres an arsehole in the
band, sooner or later hes going
to cheese somebody off and
the bands going to split.
scenes from a good old-fashioned drag race,
50s style (filmed at an old Royal Air Force
strip), Rob in jeans and T-shirt, his moves still
a bit feminine and actorly, again, not so studied
Rob later quipped that the band had a
Marlon Brando thing going. This is a great
video, and the songs stirring melodies provide
the perfect soundtrack to the action.
The aforementioned Dont Go came next,
and I remember friends who were fans being
shocked at how it was barely there. Still, it
grows on you, and little musical events lift it
along as the band progresses through to a con-
clusion much louder and more robust than the
way the track began. The video is another
charmer, set to a surreal scene typical of the
very first videos, as video directors stretched
their creativity as far as they could without
spending too much money. Rob has longish
blond hair and a moustache as he exhorts var-
ious band members not to leave, not to open
that white door and enter a crazy world.
Its more grueling than you think, says Ian
with respect to making these clips. You tend to
be sitting around for ages doing nothing,
punctuated by a few minutes of intense
activity. On the Dont Go video, I remember
Rob throwing up into his space helmet one
time [laughs]. He does this flying thing in a
space suit and hes up on wires and theyre
spinning him around and all this business and
Technically, it was because
of the amount of alcohol
that was consumed
he actually threw up in the helmet [laughs].
That was quite an event. But I quite liked
Dont Go. I liked working on it as well. It was
one of the first times we worked with Julien
Temple, who went on to bigger and better
things, I believe. That was quite exciting. We
were generally on location, so the chances of
meeting any movie star would be quite remote.
Dont Go was done in London. Its usually just
generally locally where we happened to be.
Next up was Hot Rockin, perhaps the
albums heaviest track, this one recalling
Breaking the Law as well; its all business and
meat-and-potatoes with a metal ride out into a
late night of trouble. Almost a punk rocker,
theres a great dramatic break late in the track,
before an inspiring lapse into another verse.
For the video (also directed by Julien Temple),
Rob was singing expressively, convincingly, in a
car, out for a night on the town, positively
raging for a bit of mischief. This footage was
interspersed with the band live on a sound-
stage, increasingly lighting bits of their gear on
fire in front of a small crowd of egregiously
committed metalheads. Recalls Ian, Rob set
his boots on fire and he couldnt put it out; he
was putting this jelly stuff on his palm, I think.
And he couldnt get his boots off because they
were hot. He was running around there until
somebody found a fire extinguisher. Indeed,
by the time Rob got his long, tight boots off, his
toes were apparently half-burnt from the heat.
Turning Circles is the records second
shocker, its opening riff sounding like something
off a Lou Reed album. Fortunately, the song up-
ratchets to what is at least a dark pop rocker,
reminiscent of something Blue yster Cult
might have done that same year. Desert Plains
follows, and this one underscores the albums
essence as something slightly morose, laid-back,
understated. Its a rocker, one that could have fit
on British Steel, or strangely, Defenders, but
again, the fireworks are kept in the box. Amus-
ingly, the 2001 reissue of Point of Entry includes
a crazy-fast live version of the song the biggest
change in tempo of a song, from studio to live,
Ive ever heard out of any band. The song is
wholly transformed in the process.
Side two of the original vinyl opens with
another languid but, on the main, heavy
rocker, Solar Angels helping define the
British Steel/Point of Entry era as built around
simple structures, plain but competent
recording values, excellent expression from
Rob, and a certain pop timelessness. Next was
You Say Yes, which Tipton deems a brave
experiment if not a successful one. Again, its
part and parcel of this albums identity.
Arrangements are similar throughout the
album, and some songs are just happier this
is one of them, its funky, circular riff working
well with Robs flirting lyric. All the Way con-
tinues in this mainstream mode, sounding like
a cross between glam, the Stones and Living
After Midnight. Troubleshooter same
thing. This was a Priest pared down and pert,
ready to compete perhaps with the world of
post-punk new wave.
The album closes with On the Run, more
of a conventional Priest rocker with distinct
echoes of British Steels point-blank rockiness.
Still, its status quo strut was a far cry from the
note density strafing of a Hell Bent for
Leather or Dissident Aggressor.
Commercially, Point of Entry would be con-
sidered a stumble after British Steels seemingly
effortless vault to gold status. The album
peaked at around 425,000 for a while and
finally was awarded gold on November 10,
1989. In its day, it would rise to #14 in the U.K.
charts, and #39 in the States, compared to #4 in
Britain and #34 in the States for its more well-
endowed partner, British Steel.
Oddly, the band, in retrospect, talks about
the album as very strong but perhaps self-
indulgent, even progressive. It is, in fact, none
of these things. And Priest was the band of
record when it came to being self-indulgent
and progressive and pulling it off with almost
Queen-like flair. This is what they were like
during their golden period in the late 70s. But
come Point of Entry, no, all you had really was
simple and poppy nicely done mind you,
but simple and poppy all the same. If writing
music pointedly to make some dosh at the
expense of purity and creativity was self-
indulgent, well then Priest was being
We still play Heading out to the Highway
live, reflects Ian, looking back at this con-
tentious record. Its a great live track. We
didnt make a conscious effort where we went,
Wed better try and sell this to the teenybop-
pers. There was none of that. It was just that
we went in the studio and did what we did.
There was no conscious effort to make the
album commercial it just turned out the
way that it did.
Between the record release and touring,
Priest parted ways with their business office,
Arnakata Management. Amid accusations
of financial mismanagement, there was a
difference of vision. Management wanted
Priest to ditch the black leather and studs, the
whole heavy metal image, along with the
Harley. Priest figured this was central to their
identity and decided to manage themselves
for a time, under the guise of Secret Manage-
ment Associates Inc.
The Point of Entry tour kicked off in mid-
February of 81, with Saxon as support.
Perhaps cognizant of their slip, the band played
the four heaviest metal songs from the album,
and nothing else, although Troubleshooter
was given a test run. Arguably, On the Run is
the key heavy metal deletion, but other than
that, Point of Entrys dark side was covered,
through the proprietorship of Heading out to
the Highway, Hot Rockin, Desert Plains
and Solar Angels. The opener was in fact
Solar Angels, the band hitting the stage after
an extended atmospheric intro. The back cata-
log semi-hits were piling up, with perhaps
Dont Have to be Old to be Wise being odd-
man-out on a set list starting to firm up for all
time. In the U.S., Priest took out a rocketing
Iron Maiden, along with a fading Humble Pie,
and for the second time, the Joe Perry Project.
The stage set was a step up, with hydraulic
platforms, a futuristic star-shaped lighting
system and more room to roam which the
band did enthusiastically, aided as well by the
use of new wireless guitar systems. A curious
red and yellow pattern in front of the amps had
Glenn quipping that it looked like a Chinese
restaurant. Glenns black leather jacket and red
pants were displayed in all their glory, but Rob
looked kind of casual in a denim and leather
ensemble. At one show, the lighting system
came unhinged on one side and swooped
down upon the band, missing them, but taking
out a few cymbals in the process.
Paul DiAnno apologized personally to me
for causing bad air between Maiden and
Priest, said K.K., looking back in 2003 at
Priests relationship with the eventual usurpers
of the metal throne. What a great gesture. But
he wasnt the main reason for the rivalry. At the
time of British Steel, Priest was the bigger band
and Maiden was the supporting act. They were
saying that theyll blow us off the stage without
any problem. Well, I thought their behavior
wasnt very nice. Id have loved to send them
home and take another band with us who
would have appreciated the chance. But we
were told not to do it, as it would have looked
like we were frightened by them. So we kept on
going. But they were very arrogant. And I
remember the main rehearsal before the tour,
there were a few guys hanging around in the
room who didnt say a word and watched
everything we did, every step we made and
every move of the stage lights. I wasnt very
pleased, and asked the guitar tech to tell the
guys to leave the place. Dont get me wrong:
Im not too good to play in front of the sup-
porting band but they could have at least
asked if it was OK to attend the rehearsal. We
went on tour and they didnt blow us off the
stage, of course. I watched quite a lot of the
Maiden shows, but the reaction of the audience
wasnt very explosive, because the fans were
waiting for us. OK, Maiden became one of the
biggest bands of the metal scene, and Im
proud of them. We made a big mistake by
focusing more on the U.S. than on Europe after
releasing British Steel, which means we lost a lot
of attention at home. In the U.S., we were quite
big and Maiden asked us for a support slot
on our U.S. tour. We said yes and the same
old story happened again. It had a lot to do
with rivalry and jealousy. But its an old story.
Like I already said, Im proud of what Maiden
achieved and of what they did for British metal.
It might sound stupid, but its true.
The band was in the States from May of 81
through July, followed by November and
December dates in Britain and mainland
Europe with Def Leppard and Accept in tow.
Curiously, at least early in the campaign, the
British Steel album cover was being used on
tour posters, its distinct image perhaps making
a subtle shift from cover for a set of songs to a
descriptor for the upcoming show: Judas Priest
British Steel!
Forever a burr in Priests saddle, Gull
Records returned in 81 with a double album
called Hero, Hero, which trotted out the old
Rocka Rolla and Sad Wings of Destiny material
(already reissued in various territories and in a
number of ways), yet again. Cool little changes
were part of the package though, the best addi-
tion being the early, warmer, more relaxed
version of Diamonds and Rust. Both are
good, sure, but this one is positively cushy
compared to the thin and frenetic take that
showed up on Sin After Sin. Also, through a
Rodger Bain remix, Rocka Rolla was slightly
rearranged, with the harmonica taken out and
some soloing lost. Deep Freeze was made
nastier finicky things were done to various
guitar and vocal parts and all of those bitty
pieces of the Rocka Rolla Winter Suite epic
were chopped up properly. Finally, Melvyn
Grant was called upon to provide the rights to
his fantasy warrior painting Sword of the Gael,
already used for a book cover in 1975. It was
one of at least three fetching new fantasy-based
paintings Gull would use to tart up the vener-
able Priest material they kept reconfiguring,
and, although they looked good and fit the bill
for the bands moody, mysterious first two
records, one cant and shouldnt erase the
iconic Sad Wings art from ones mind. Rocka
Rolla is another story, but ultimately, these
things should remain as they were. . . .
Screaming for Vengeance
(CBS, July 82)
Side 1
The Hellion
Electric Eye
Riding on the Wind
(Take These) Chains
Pain and Pleasure
Side 2
Screaming for Vengeance
Youve Got Another Thing Comin
Devils Child
When you hit that continent,
its going to change you
Screaming for Vengeance
No question, Point of Entry knocked
Priest down a peg. Fans had it in the
back of their minds that even before
their heroes got to become ambassadors
of metal (a phrase that was thrown
around in later years), Priest had stum-
bled with a weak tea album, leaving the
door ajar for lustier romps from the likes
of Saxon, Maiden and Def Leppard.
But the bands next album would prove that
there was more gas in the tank, that metal still
lived and breathed inside this beast from
Birmingham. Ibiza, Spain, would again be
home to the band as they formulated plans to
return strong, with two studios in Florida used
for mixing purposes (and the fateful recording
of Youve Got Another Thing Comin!).
Screaming for Vengeance would be recorded
over a five-month period, from January until
May of 1982, the album shipping shortly there-
after, in July. In fact, the band had spent late 81
in Ibiza writing and rehearsing. After they took
a break for some U.K. dates in November, they
went into recording mode, only to end up
scrapping the handful of songs they had
worked up the previous October.
Screaming for Vengeance would quickly
prove to be a success, hitting gold four months
after issue, and platinum six months later.
Although likely passing double platinum much
earlier, 2001 marked the official designation
for the record at that level. It was of little con-
cern that these numbers were not higher than
that, nor indeed, as high as the numbers many
other metal bands were about to achieve, for
Priest would be getting the same high level of
press and attendant photography, their crowds
would be huge and adoring, and most impor-
tantly, they were about to enjoy a few magic
years as the gold standard of metal bands. Slow
and steady wins the race the album would
spend 53 weeks on the Billboard charts,
achieving a #17 placement in the U.S., #11 back
home in Britain.
No doubt the artwork chosen for Screaming
for Vengeance helped the bands commercial
prospects. Point of Entry was a disaster graphi-
cally nice, a bit arty, intriguing for an album
cover, but of little use beyond the world of
merchandising. British Steel had it all, and
frankly, its cartoony feel was a big part of that.
Even more cartoony was Doug Johnsons Hel-
lion, essentially becoming a mascot for the
band, even if short-lived. The bold, primary
colored graphics surrounding this mythical,
mechanical beast communicated something to
the punter, and the fact that the overall design
was essentially yellow . . . well, that was some-
thing fresh, cheerful, bright, the new color at
the party it was as if Priest was trying to say
that yellow was the new black.
Halford had remarked that he had the word
vengeance firmly in mind for the title. Of
course, Halford, as well as the others, would be
too polite and also too careful on a publicity
tack to suggest the vengeance they desired was
toward a) slaggers of their slaggable recent
album, or b) the whole idea of metal and
maybe even themselves, for screwing up and
making that slaggable album. Once Rob had
seen the cover image concocted by Johnson, he
realized vengeance fit fine, as well as the word
screaming, given that Johnsons eagle looked
like it was screaming as it swooped in for the
kill, as the bands early tourmates Budgie
might have surmised. K.K. was further pleased
by the fact that the cover brought forward, only
slightly, elements from the Sad Wings of Des-
tiny art used six years earlier.
Screaming for Vengeance opened with one of
the great metal intros of all time. The Hellion
was 41 seconds of molten metal drama. K.K.
has mentioned that the original plan was to
turn the track into a song in its own right,
which of course never happened. Tom Alloms
production proves sizzling, far superior to the
humourless knob job afforded British Steel,
The Hellion proceeding proudly like a flaw-
less soundcheck, smiles all around, all systems
go. The track, unlike many intros, actually does
end, after which Electric Eye bursts forth like
a thousand hellions from thunderous skies, the
song instantly heavier than anything on Point of
Entry. Again, smiles all around this time on
the faces of the faithful who had to endure their
bands year of red faces at the hands of count-
less NWOBHM bands handing Priest a beating.
Again, Allom had triumphed at the
recording desk. No surprise that the guitars
sound bold and searing, but Holland is cap-
tured adequately as well. Sure, Allom goes for
more of a continuous, high frequency bass
rumble, rather than having bass emerge from
the kick drum. But the cymbals sizzle loudly
and often, and the overall effect is one of
potent, profound metal unity.
Notes Rob on the albums first full song, ever
to be a live classic: Electric Eye is relevant
because it talks about an invasion of privacy by
spy satellites, but the cool thing is that I revis-
ited that approach and wrote Cyberworld on
the Resurrection CD from the Halford band, and
it just talks about the way that no matter where
we go and what we do in the world, were
always under a microscope, and that there is no
such thing as 100 percent privacy in your life.
Tipton adds that he admired the way that this
was a modern lyric, more sci-fi versus the
dungeon lyrics of the 70s. Robs flash words
were designed to fit the flash 80s-style heavy
metal he and K.K. were crafting.
Then again, the lyrics put forth by Rob at
the time were a return of sorts from the
thoughtful, non-metal themes on the anemic
Point of Entry album. Im sure people get sick
of hearing me scream about demons and death
and destruction all the time. Theres always
that tendency in heavy metal to have that kind
of stylized writing, because the words usually
dont mean a great deal. On Screaming for
Vengeance, however, the lyrics are back to being
aggressive, even more so than on British Steel.
What I write is based on our audience. The
great percentage of our audience is able to
relate to the lyrical content. People simply want
to relate, and that is probably the greatest thing
Judas Priest have had going for us. They see us
pretty much as themselves, maybe hoping that
one day they can do what were doing.
Electric Eye was indeed eyed as a second
lead single to drop from the talons of this
record. Halford had reservations about it, fig-
uring something like (Take These) Chains
was more suited for airplay, but he also recog-
nized the visual appeal in the songs subject
matter, and that it undoubtedly would have
been good grist for a video. MTV was one year
Im sure people get sick of
hearing me scream about
demons and death and
destruction allthe time.
old and going gangbusters at the time, and
Priest was in there like a dirty shirt, garnering
huge airplay with Screamings first single,
Youve Got Another Thing Comin. In any
event, Electric Eye never happened as a single
or video, not that it needed it it is perhaps
eclipsed only by Victim of Changes or
Breaking the Law as the fans most cherished
Priest gem of all time.
Riding on the Wind . . . incredibly, this
one was also heavier than anything on the last
record, and by this point in the sequence, fans
were getting the message that Priest was delib-
erately and brutishly stomping all over their
recent past. Lyrically, Halford is tossing off
bolts of energy, combining the imagery of the
much more poetic and dramatic Rapid Fire
with the sci-fi of Stained Class. It aint much,
but it races the pulse. Bloodstone completes
side ones trilogy of trouncers. What this one
lacks in full throttle guitar, it makes up with
darkness and a pronounced surge come chorus
time. The Bloodstone lyric is, again, spare
but somewhat poignant, its central and quite
grand element being Robs labeling our
corrupt planet a bloodstone.
Side one then turns on a disconcerting note,
Priest working up a song by hired songwriting
gun and Syracuse, New York, native Bob Hal-
ligan Jr., later to contribute to the Halford
band, his Priest song being his first credit of a
long and distinguished career. (Take These)
Chains is essentially a hair metal song, defi-
nitely poppy, balladic at times, lyrically a cheap
and cheesy love song. The pre-chorus melody
is a highlight though, hearkening back to
Breaking the Law and poignant bits on Point
of Entry. The solo section is nicely assembled as
well. Still, this wasnt a band that needed help
writing. Pain and Pleasure, another dark
horse track, is an apt follow-up to Chains,
both being a bit pedestrian and plodding,
working hard to erase all that good will built
That was planned for,
that one. It was the key
track on the album.
up by the three stormbringers placed merci-
lessly in succession to open the album. Its
another love-gone-wrong song, not one of
Halfords strong suits.
Side two opens with the fourth song on the
record heavier than anything on Point of Entry,
or indeed British Steel. Screamings title track is
a return to the technical speed metal mastery
found on the song Hell Bent for Leather and
much of the Stained Class album, but from a
less nave and bravely optimistic point of view.
Still, without a flash drummer to propel the
song, it seems a bit shackled, with no help from
Alloms modern attachments to the drum
sound. Sure, they are slight, and they pose no
problem elsewhere, but on a song this fast, the
backbeat feels held back. Halfords lyric is
interesting and well off his usual style, almost
into an awkward and amusing Ian Gillan Eng-
lish as a second language mode. He seems to
be on about individuality, essentially a British
Steel sentiment, but his message emerges more
charming than correct.
Says Ian of Screaming for Vengeance,Its
funny, because that is one of the tracks that
Priest will be known for, although also of
course, Youve Got Another Thing Comin,
because it was all over the radio at the time.
But Screaming almost epitomizes Judas Priest
with the speed and aggression. And that was
very, very much worked on. That was planned
for, that one. It was the key track on the
album. Curiously, Glenn has singled this song
out as containing a lead break based on a
chord sequence that was composed before the
song itself.
Next comes a song even more similar to
something from Kiss than Living After Mid-
night. Youve Got Another Thing Comin
again presents Priest to the masses in dumbed-
down form. But unlike Living After
Midnight, this ones not even all that good.
The cozy charm isnt there, nor is the heavy yet
energetic verse. This one thunders along
threatening to collapse under its own weight,
and the premise is weak. The call and response
vocal/riff structure is straight off a Sammy
Hagar solo album, the lyric an unimpressive
rehash of past themes, the title long, awkward
and boring. As mentioned, there was a well-
used video, with Julien Temple again called
upon to do the business. And there you go,
inexplicable to this writer, Youve Got Another
Thing Comin was the bands biggest hit ever.
You always think that with every album!
says Ian, asked whether he had any notion this
album would wind up platinum. We got lucky
with it as it contained Youve Got Another
Thing Comin. That song was very much an
accident. We recorded a lot of the material in
the Mediterranean. We went to Orlando,
Florida, and mixed the album and discovered
we were a little short on time. We were mixing
down and we thought that we could do with
another three or four minutes. We did our best
to get something together a bit of an album
filler. That is very unusual for us, because we
never take that sort of attitude. It was that song
and it was written and recorded within hours.
It was an afterthought. It might have been
because it was so spontaneous and fresh that
American radio picked up on it and the next
thing you know it was being played all over the
place. It was the song that broke us in a big way
in the States. Everything that followed really
owed itself to that song. It is spontaneous
things like that that are sometimes the best.
How did the success change us? I dont know.
You have no basis for comparison. You dont
know what you would have been like if you had
never gone through it. It was great doing some-
thing that you loved, but it was hard. We didnt
earn any money for ten years. We were living
fromhand to mouth for a long time. It was not
until Screaming for Vengeance that we could
afford to go out and buy a decent car! It was a
long hard road. Everything that we earned
went back into the band. This was the days
before renting PAs and trucks. We had roadies
we were paying. Like I say, most of the income
that came in went back into the band.
But yes, Youve Got Another Thing
Comin was very much thrown together in the
studio, continues Ian. Also, the record com-
pany was screaming at us for a commercial
type song or something commercial for us
that they might be able to get on radio. And
it very much took shape within an afternoon
really [laughs]. Although obviously it took a
couple of days to get it put down. We got in
there, started kicking a few ideas around, and
thats what came out. It was very much a last-
minute thing. Underscoring the songs quick
birth, Dave Hollands first perfunctory run
through it, the ghost track, ended up being the
one used as the master drum track.
Adds K.K. on the subject of commerciality,
Obviously we started recording in the early
70s. I suppose inevitably when you start to
travel the world and go to different countries
. . . I mean, before we actually went to America
or Canada, people would say, When you hit
that continent, its going to change you. Youll
hear things on the radio and youll be influ-
enced by this. And whether we were or not, Im
not exactly sure. The only thing I know is that
it seems that every few years, things take a little
bit of a turning in that direction, and you start
to create a bit of different rock or metal, as
people know. But with Screaming for
Vengeance, I think that was one album that just
When you hit that
continent, its going
to change you.Youll
hear things on the
radio and youll be
influenced by this.
came out very, very naturally, as did British
Steel, and we didnt have to work at it. And I
think it shows. We say if the record seems to
have a good flow to it, good continuity, then
the band didnt have to work hard to come up
with material. Whereas other albums, I think it
kind of shows a little bit. Even though they
might be good albums, it shows that we had to
work at it. And in actual fact, Screaming for
Vengeance is our biggest selling album.
K.K. often seemed both bemused and
intrigued by what had happened with the band
in the States, claiming that the nations love
affair with radio is more intense than else-
where. To that end, he always got a kick out of
hearing his song blasting out of a car rolling by,
or even more so, in a supermarket, joking
about rolling down the aisle with his cart, in
possession of this surreal knowledge that thats
him on there.
K.K. adds a comment about song credits
outside of the Bob Halligan Jr. song, everything
is credited three ways equally, to Tipton, Halford
and Downing. I think what happens is, there
are some songs, obviously, that I present to Rob
and Glenn, and vice versa. But there is democ-
racy there. When Glenn puts his stuff on there,
it might not be a great amount, but he puts
some stuff on there. And Rob puts some stuff on
there, and we just credit all of us. And the same
thing can happen the other way, where Glenn
might present something that is 70 or 80 per-
cent finished, but myself and Rob obviously
have our input, and thats the way we work. I
Leif Edling
know what youre saying, really it would be
interesting for people to know who actually
kicked off at least the basic essential ingredients,
the idea, but thats a close-guarded secret, and
maybe forevermore it will be. So for me to say,
maybe it wouldnt be fair to the others.
Screaming for Vengeance closes on, well, an
uncreative note, with the mellow and Ameri-
canized Fever, essentially another protohair
band ballad, spruced up by a bit of guitarish
nonsense. Devils Child is basically another
Youve Got Another Thing Comin, only a
little more sprightly, especially live, where, as
with Desert Plains, Priest makes a decision
to kick its ass.
Live, the band skipped the obvious droopers,
namely (Take These) Chains and Pain and
Pleasure, although Fever stumbled its way to
the stage, if only for two dates before being
retired. And quite a stage it was, the bands most
elaborate set ever, the guys having to wait until
the day before their first show to test it out. The
tour kicked off in late August 1982, supported
by the likes of Krokus, The Rods, Def Leppard,
Axe, Coney Hatch, Heaven and a rejuvenated
Uriah Heep. A low point might have been Dave
Holland getting beat up by a cab driver in
Dallas, although the high was undoubtedly
playing a sold-out show at Madison Square
Garden, October 2, 1982. In truth, Holland
didnt exactly get beat up. Dave had taken a cab
to the gig, requesting to be dropped off in the
backstage area. The cabbie refused, depositing
him at the front gate, where fans were congre-
gating. Demanding his two dollars, the taxi
driver hauled him out of the backseat. Dave
tried to walk away but was thrown to the
ground. A fan who had recognized Holland
intervened and the mess was cleared up.
On December 12th, in Memphis, the show
was recorded for issue as the Judas Priest Live
VHS video and laser disc, later reissued with dif-
ferent cover art and two less tracks, the footage
also used for broadcast on MTV, the bands
latest best friend by far. Later, the concert
showed up as part of the Metalogy box set and
then, in 2006, as the Live Vengeance 82 DVD.
Leif Edling
Breaking for Christmas, it was decided that
the album was doing so well in the States, that
the band had better add a second leg, forsaking
their planned European and U.K. jaunt, some-
thing that upset the faithful all too familiar
with that strategy from Led Zeppelin, Black
Sabbath and Deep Purple. It was quite a turn of
events, because previous to the album reversing
the bands declining fortunes, the notion
kicked around was that Priest didnt have
enough money left to mount an American tour
at all! K.K. had said the band had been existing
on big loans and that over the years, the guys
had gotten used to keeping up appearances
during interviews, concealing from journalists
the fact that they were real skint.
First of all, defended Rob at the time,
recording Screaming for Vengeance ran far
longer than we thought, then took off like a
rocket in the States. Also, in terms of produc-
tion, we had to get this mammoth stage set
together, and there was no way to use it in Eng-
land. So we figured, lets do America, go back
Leif Edling
Allthose things that happen
here simply do not happen
anywhere else in the world.
And thats alla musician ever
wants, as far as Im concerned.
to England, then do the next album. But of
course, the U.S. tour went for nine months
instead of six. And because we havent been
back in this length of time, its important that
we really show them what were doing now.
Well try to put together a bill with three big
acts and have a heavy metal Christmas tour.
Rob went so far as to take up a permanent
residence in Phoenix, Arizona, which in the
90s became a bit of a bedroom community for
many metal stars. Previously, he had been in
Walsall, England, not far from where he was
raised, his dads line of work being the steel
industry, albeit comfortably well up the line
from on the line. Robs mom worked at a
nursery school. The couple had three children,
Rob, his sister Susan (married to Ian Hill), and
a much younger brother Nigel.
Its a pity you have to stay in America for
so long before you get your total green pass,
mused Rob. In my head, I feel totally English
and always will be, but America has certainly
become my second home. I spend more time
here than anywhere else in the world. So
theres the proof really, of how much I enjoy
the place. The general attitude of the fans, the
audience, of people in the music business
here, I feel, is more professional, or dedicated,
more enthusiastic, far more committed. If
they get excited over things, they push, they
assist you. All those things that happen here
simply do not happen anywhere else in the
world. And thats all a musician ever wants, as
far as Im concerned.
Madison Square Garden was to be topped
by the bands sunny 70-minute set at Apple
executive Steve Wozniaks U.S. Festival, on
what was called Heavy Metal Day. There were
an estimated 300,000 people there that day, the
most successful day of the event, with Ozzy,
Van Halen, Triumph and Scorpions rocking
the metal faithful. It was, as the band has
noted, pretty much the perfect exclamation
point to the Screaming for Vengeance tour, a
campaign that found the band playing over
100 shows in the U.S., cementing Priest as the
top ambassadors of British steel during one of
the most competitive ramp-up periods heavy
metal as a genre had ever witnessed.
Noted Rob, directly after the U.S. Festival,
We had two days rehearsal before the U.S.
show, in which we played about two hours, and
then we went out and played to 300,000 people!
But the band is so together now, we just blasted
through the set. That show was the climax of
83 for the band, considering the tour went
through half of 82 as well. What a great way to
finish it off before we come back in 1984.
Defenders of the Faith
(CBS, January 84)
Side 1
Freewheel Burning
Rock Hard Ride Free
The Sentinel
Side 2
Love Bites
Eat Me Alive
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
Night Comes Down
Heavy Duty
Defenders of the Faith
People do actually listen
to it as a recorded record
Defenders of the Faith
The Priest came back from twin turbo
career highs the massive Screaming
for Vengeance tour and album were both
critical and commercial successes. The
album was essentially a flashier, yet
somehow more commercially viable ver-
sion of the British Steel experience, and
Priest was awarded with platinum sales
in the process. Come time for a follow-
up, the band looked to maintain the
formula, crafting Defenders of the Faith,
essentially Screamings evil twin.
It was a step forward, reflects Ian.
Screaming for Vengeance carried on from what
we were doing on British Steel, apart from Point
of Entry, arguably the most commercial album
weve done. Other than that, its been a natural
progression from the early days, really, culmi-
nating with Defenders, which is why its one of
my favorite albums because its the end of an
era, before we started a new one.
It is actually Ians favorite of the whole cat-
alog. Yes. Obviously, putting the new one
aside, because the new one is always your
favorite because you just poured your heart
and soul into it for the last couple of years, but
of the back catalog, I would have to say
Defenders, only because it was the last of the
traditional Priest albums, know what I mean?
Because after that came Turbo, which was quite
different, not content-wise but sound-wise,
with the synth guitars. And from then, the
band took on a much harder edge with Ram it
Down and Painkiller. It was a harder, more
aggressive direction than wed been known for,
culminating with Jugulator, which was the end
of that sort of line. Demolition is the start of
the new one with the inclusion of the more
subtle passages and some more subtle songs,
but Defenders is a definite favorite. And double
platinum in America now as well.
Defenders was a really underrated album,
adds Glenn. Even from our point of view, I
tended to think of Defenders as just another
Priest album. But really, with tracks like Love
Bites . . . it had some great tracks on there. I
think its an album that I underestimated, and
it turned out to be one of our biggest-selling
All of the songs were great, continues Ian,
who is also known to praise the records variety
of speeds and styles. Very few of them stuck
out head and shoulders above the others
because they were all so good. As a step for-
ward from Screaming for Vengeance, it took that
I think its an album
that I underestimated,
and it turned out
to be one of our
type of metal to about its peak. I dont think we
ever topped that in that idiom. And I dont
think anybody else has either, really. That was
recorded in Ibiza, in the Mediterranean. And it
was a holiday island, so there were multiple
distractions clubs, bars, beaches, boats, the
whole thing. We did more messing around
than we did recording. And it was just our-
selves there; its really just one studio.
The Ibiza, Spain, studio in which the band
had recorded both Point of Entry and
Screaming for Vengeance (Ibiza Sound Stu-
dios) had gone out of business since the
bands last rape and pillage of the place. But
the band rebuilt the studio from its shell,
Dave Holland investing in the venture, staying
back from the mixing sessions in the States so
that he could work a deal with a pair of
prospective business partners.
When you think about it, explained Rob,
here we were, we just had this incredible
American success with the platinum album and
the big U.S. Festival show, and we went to an
island that had a studio with nothing in it! Can
you imagine that? Any other band, any other
manager . . . [Priest manager Bill] Curbishley
mustve put a great deal of faith and trust in the
fact that we knew what we were doing. There
wasnt even recording tape on the island!
Although none of us are superstitious in the
band, I think we saw there was a bit of magic in
that place. With Daves involvement, I suppose
that was the prime factor in making us decide
to do it. During the day, Id go with Dave and
wed paint the walls and put the bedroom fur-
niture back in. It was really bizarre. The first
time I went there, Dave warned me, Youll
really be surprised, and I said, No, I can handle
anything; Im shockproof. So I went up there,
and I nearly fell through the floor! I got there as
it was dusk, and there wasnt even any elec-
tricity. So for the next few weeks, we put the
place back together again. The board came back
over from Barcelona, and there were about 20
of us struggling to get this humongous board
back into the studio, rolling it on logs . . . you
wouldnt have believed it if youd seen it. Here
we were, the metal gods, sweating our buns off
trying to put this studio back together. And
then the place was livable again. Thats when we
really did sit down and start to write.
In actual fact, the previous version of the
studio was an advanced 48-track rig, and it was
in the mansion of a German named Fritz, who,
according to Ian, had run off owing people a
lot of money. The locals got their revenge by
raiding the place and taking anything that
wasnt bolted down, along with much of what
was. The story gets a little sketchy, with Rob
remembering that the defaulted payments
were on the expensive recording equipment,
with the company that supplied it showing up
by boat to cart it all back to the mainland. Rob
then said that the initial downpayment Priest
would make on the equipment turned out to
be enough for them to haul all the gear back to
the island.
Despite the business shenanigans, Defenders
of the Faith was recorded in July and August in
Ibiza and then mixed in Miami from Sep-
tember through November of 83. Tom Allom
once again produced, but Mark Dodson made
a return engagement as engineer, replacing
Louis Austin, who had engineered the previous
three albums. Dodson would be rewarded for
his return by getting hit hard by a taxi at about
60 mph, after he and K.K. had just left a night-
club on the island. Miraculously, after
bouncing off the windshield and shattering it,
he escaped with minor injuries. The laborious
mixing sessions actually took place in a ware-
house, as the studio was between moves. It is
here the band decided on the title of the
album, Defenders of the Faith winning out over
Keep the Faith, the faith being, of course, heavy
metal, Priest being one of very few major acts
who admitted to being a heavy metal band,
then or now.
Doug Johnson devised another stylized
mascot graphic for the cover art. The colors
werent as distinctive as those on Screaming for
Vengeance, but the half-tank, half-monster
Metallian was more complex and interesting
than Screamings rote-by-comparison eagle,
known in its flight log as The Hellion. The
band agreed that this was what a defender of
the faith would look like, and indeed, the stage
showwould take its cue from Johnsons biome-
chanical creation. Warned the back cover,
Rising from darkness where all hell hath no
mercy and the screams of vengeance echo on
forever, only those who keep the faith shall
escape the wrath of the metallian . . . master of
all metal.
Ads for the record fueled the fire, claiming
Judas Priest scourge the unbelievers on their
hardest album ever, adding, Convert your
friends on tour, and on Columbia Records and
Cassettes! and finally in big type, Get Thee
Behind Judas Priest!
Threats aside, the record opened with
Freewheel Burning (working title: Fast and
Furious), also the albums advance single, a
speed metal highball in the spirit of the pre-
vious records title track or Ram it Down,
the title track from two records forward.
Curiously, the early issued single version of
the song, backed with two U.S. Festival live
tracks in the U.K., featured a quiet fade-in fol-
lowed by an elegiac and haunting Sad
Wingsstyle twin lead wash, before the song
shuffled clumsily into corporate metal focus.
Another typical Priest track, fast, aggressive,
notes Hill, addressing this mad dragster of a
fast track. We had gone through a phase.
Theres a program over here called Top of the
Pops, and we call it our Top of the Pops phase,
where youre on the local commercial TV sta-
tion. I dont know . . . we just wanted to get
away from that and wanted to head into a
heavier, contemporary direction, at least
superficially. I mean, weve always been that
way, but people were trying to portray us as
something we werent at one time. Thats one
of the reasons we thought, well, OK, instead of
making a video for the most obviously com-
mercial one, or the ballad or whatever, well
go ahead and do one with our other dimen-
sion [laughs].
And so they did, churning out a lip-synched
live clip set to lasers, interspersed with video
arcade hijinks, the lasers getting out of control,
Rob looking cool atop his Harley. Glenns
deliberate-yet-journeying solo is among his
most memorable and wild, and Rob sings his
head off. But the track as a whole leaves some-
thing to be desired, mainly due to the stodgy
Here we were, the metal
gods, sweating our buns
off trying to put this
studio back together.
drumming and production. For a balls-out
rocker, there isnt much energy welling up
from the engine room. Of note, the band was a
bit irked at the label. As agreed upon, the band
worked hard to get the track finished and
mixed ahead of the album for issue as an
advance single. But then it was sat on for a few
weeks, the band presuming that the suits were
waiting to hear if they liked anything better.
I guess the initial approach for this album
was wanting to come up with ten killer tracks,
and at the time, not really having a positive
theme, said Rob, on the tour trail for the
album in 1984. Just knowing that we wanted
the usual series of rhythms, beats across the
sections, and metal music from the fast, mad
ones like Jawbreaker and Freewheel Burning,
to the real slogging ones like Heavy Duty and
Defenders of the Faith. Although its probably
taken us longer to write this album than any-
thing else, the songs did seem to come together
reasonably easy. Its always a struggle to come
up with good follow-up tunes, but I think that
we got more of an incentive going for us on the
strength of the success in the States. The pres-
sure was there, but it was good pressure.
Asked if the band could or would conjure a
single as flagrantly light as Van Halens Jump,
Rob answered emphatically in the negative.
Im not saying we wouldnt release a single
like Night Comes Down; its well within our
limits. But Van Halen and Im sure theyd be
the first to admit it arent a heavy metal
band. Theyre a pop rock band, and theres
nothing wrong with that. I think theyre great.
But we are heavy metal and theres no way wed
stray from those margins. Otherwise wed have
already done it. Weve never really looked at the
single chart and said, Ooh, we want a hit
single. But wed be hypocritical to say that we
wouldnt like it some day. Id love to see this
band get a Top 10 single in the States.
Jawbreaker was a much more inspired
heavy rocker, its strong melody recalling the
sturdiness of Priests writing in the 70s, and
even that of Scorpions from a similar time and
clime. Lyrically, Rob has said point-blank its
about cocksucking, pretty bloody obvious
actually. The songs highlights include the little
staccato guitar breaks, its ripping heavy metal
chorus and K.K.s howling, then quite musical,
guitar solo.
Rock Hard Ride Free is an underrated
Priest classic, derided for its pedestrian frame,
but unrightly so, given its sturdy construction
and complex melodies and mood changes. The
song was originally tabled as Fight for Your
Life, much of it the same, save for its com-
pletely different chorus, both musically and
lyrically, and a somewhat differently mean-
dering instrumental break. This outtake can be
heard on the 2001 remaster of Hell Bent for
Leather. K.K. had joked that the chorus lyric
particularly Fight for your money, was obvi-
ously a bit ludicrous, noting that anyone could
see why they would overhaul the song to what
it became. As it stood proud on Defenders, the
song took on an overt biker presence, given the
title, and given its road song vibe, a palpable
Dion DeTora
case of white line fever riding on the wind after
the songs longish 5:34 passes wistfully.
Says Ian of The Sentinel, arguably the
albums masterpiece, That ones always been an
epic, yeah. Its one of my favorite songs as well,
and until very recently its been included in the
live set. And I think, in fact, weve just only
recently dropped it. Its a great, exciting track
and its a bit of a showpiece for Ken as well.
The riff work on The Sentinel is exquisite
and exacting, Glenn and K.K. demonstrating
why they are the kings of twin-axed heavy
metal. The chorus is a corker as well, Rob
grinding out memorable lines after a curious
show tune vocal melody in the brief pre-
chorus. The half-speed instrumental break is a
treat as well, even if the soloing in this one is
both a bit subdued and widdly. Again, one
shakes ones head at the debilitating effect of
Alloms awful production. The rhythm section
of Dave and Ian sounds declawed, lacking in
power, woefully ungroovy.
Side two of the original vinyl opens with the
perky and efficient Love Bites. Priest arranges
this one rife with pregnant pauses, coming up
with a catchy-but-still-thudly heavy metal
anthem about vampiric seduction. Says Ian,
We had great fun recording Love Bites; I used
a de-tuned eight-string bass on the intro to
that. Despite some rudimentary backward
effects in the song, there is no backmasking
(lyrics played backwards that supposedly
revealed Satanic messages). In fact, Rob, who
called the song aortic heavy metal, joked that
Priest considered throwing in a backmask, one
that would have said, Drink a lot of milk.
A faux-live video was also hatched for the
song, highlighting the impressive Metallian
stage set, and, irritatingly, Hollands cymbal-
whacking prowess. With our videos, we
consistently tried to capture the power of the
music and put it into a visual format, explains
Rob. Essentially, that comes down to the cos-
tumes and the stage set, plus everything else
that goes with it. I think we come pretty close
to harnessing that power. You cant get more
metal than what you see onstage for a clip like
Love Bites. God only knows how many hun-
dreds of pounds it all weighs. Our stage sets
make our videos look a lot stronger. From the
early days, weve always put money back into
the shows. And obviously, the bigger you get,
the bigger the stage show has to be, plus the
more money you have to spend. Older videos
like Breaking the Law and Dont Go were a
little bit like mini movies. Now we find that as
we develop sets, like the one we used on the
Defenders of the Faith tour, we would much
rather exploit the potential behind them rather
than going to a location type of situation.
Eat Me Alive followed amusingly and log-
ically after Love Bites, this one being another
malevolent rocker supporting the premise that
Priest wasnt about to go light. The S&M lyric
the songs working title was Bad Girls Wear
Leather got Rob in trouble with Tipper
Gore and the PMRC (Parents Music Resource
I was hysterical in a bar in
Ibiza and I showed the lyrics to
Ken and said,Check these out.
Center), but Rob says, I just wanted to write a
really sexy heavy metal lyric. I was drunk when
I wrote that. I was hysterical in a bar in Ibiza
and I showed the lyrics to Ken and said, Check
these out. A lot of the verses we couldnt use,
because they were really obscene! We cooled it
down a bit. Rob goes on to say that his attitude
is get it out in the open and let everybody have
a good look at it! Subtlety has never been a
trademark of this band.
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll is a moody
elephantine rocker somewhat in the spirit of
Rock Hard Ride Free. Unlike the poppier
material on Turbo, or even Point of Entry, such
writing on Defenders, due partially to the
mechanical, turgid mix of the album, came off
comparatively leaden and claustrophobic. That,
however, made Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
another strong Defenders track somehow a
machine-like vibe fit the songs hypnotic con-
struction. The song came from outside writer
Bob Halligan Jr., brought back after penning
(Take These) Chains for Screaming for
Vengeance. Halligan has said the lyric was a
warning about future holocausts. Melodically
passionate, particularly in the pre-chorus and
the break, this one became the albums second
single, backed with Breaking the Law live in
the States, and Green Manalishi in the U.K. It
failed to chart in either territory. Jawbreaker
was issued as a final single, only in America,
and it failed to chart as well.
Night Comes Down shares the gauzy,
bluesy bleakness of Rock Hard Ride Free and
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll, but is in fact
structured as a sort of power ballad. Fortu-
nately, in 1984, these ballads had not become
formulaic yet, and Night Comes Down
cogently and effortlessly weaves heavy bits in
with the soft reflection.
Heavy Duty/Defenders of the Faith
closes the record in churlish, plodding Take
On the World/United fashion, this one the
closest of the lot to the We Will Rock You
imprint from stated Priest influence Queen.
Heavy Duty at least chugs along to a song-
worthy enough riff, its 2:25 churn morphing
into 1:30 of Defenders of the Faith, which is
essentially a second chorus to Heavy Duty.
I guess the fact that we came up with such
a good record on Screaming, and that was so
successful for us, that the pressure was on,
really, reflects K.K., 20 years later, on the
Defenders era. And I think, even though there
is so much good material on there, if you listen
people do actually listen to it as a recorded
record if you listen to it closely, youll hear
us trying to get that extra bit out of it, extra
heaviness, an extra bit out of an effect or some-
thing, and it probably seems a little bit jumpy
in places. You can see us really trying to conjure
up new things. But by and large, theres a lot of
good material on there.
K.K. and Glenn have also agreed that the
album was quite similar to Screaming, that it
worked with the same basic ingredients but
offered better value for the money by covering
all the bases. Unfortunately they are right
Defenders felt a bit like the work of a band
with a checklist, a band boxed in by checking
off musical styles, but also by having to con-
form in style and tone to their strong-willed
get it out in the open and let
everybody have a good look
at it! Subtlety has never been
atrademark of this band.
Dion DeTora
previous record. Judas Priests music was now
illustrated, when once it was photographed.
Defenders of the Faith would end up going
gold immediately, but took four years to reach
platinum. Its chart placement in the U.K. (#19)
and America (#18) would mark a slight down-
grade versus Screaming (#11 and #17
respectively), but still, this was a band thriving
with its chosen and professed genre at large,
heavy metal dominating the charts with young
and old bands alike. Defenders was also the
record for which the band signed on with Bill
Curbishley and Trinifold Management. More
accurately, this key fortuitous career move
occurred back in May of 83, smack in the
middle of the Screaming for Vengeance cycle, Bill
working out a new five-year deal for the band,
doing the good business that had made him a
legend during his association with The Who.
Said Rob, just after the previous years tri-
umphant U.S. Festival performance, of the
Curbishley connection, It was a thrill when he
approached us in the first place, because hed
never managed anyone else other than The
Who. Hes been watching Priest develop over
the years and said if there was any band that he
wanted to get involved with after The Who was
finished, it was Judas Priest, an honor in itself,
because this guy is a very prestigious person.
Were very excited. Weve had a couple of deep,
meaningful meetings over the past few days,
and weve got the next couple of years already
planned in terms of what well attempt to do.
This is just the beginning. It might seem as
though weve been together for 12 years, which
we have, but Ill tell you, you aint seen nothing
yet! Im sure that having a member of his cali-
ber will enable us to do things and to take entry
into certain aspects which we otherwise
wouldnt have been able to do. Therell be a
general expansion of the bands ability on a
worldwide level. Weve still got so much work
to do in Europe, Japan, Australia, so many
places to go to. Weve done as much as we
could with our previous management com-
pany, but Priest is getting bigger and bigger,
and we need to be surrounded by the people
who are prepared to cope with that situation.
Bills the perfect man. I feel that this is going to
be whats that they said when they stepped
off the spacecraft? one small step for Priest,
one giant leap for heavy metal.
Despite the albums success, the numbers
for Defenders of the Faith were indeed down
from those of the firecracker response to its
predecessor. No monster hit single like Youve
Got Another Thing Comin fell out of it, and
perhaps hurting more, the album was derided
at the time as Screaming for Vengeance II or
Screaming for Vengeance Lite, the former quite
true, the latter less so, given the relative lack of
party rockers on the current release.
On tour, the band played every number
from the album save for Eat Me Alive,
although Rock Hard Ride Free, Night
Comes Down and Heavy Duty wouldnt last
one small step for Priest,
one giant leap for heavy metal.
beyond the tour. In December of 83, the band
embarked on a small warm-up tour of Europe,
playing smaller venues, mostly theaters, with
Quiet Riot as support. The European tour
proper kicked off in January, with Raven and
Ted Nugent supporting.
For their assault on America, Priest ditched
the backdrop they had been using in Europe
and stretched out with the famous Metallian
stage set. Rob would emerge from its mouth
every night, and all told, it was quite impres-
sive. Back-up came from Great White, and,
into the summer, Kick Axe this was Kick
Axes third tour for their excellent Vices debut,
and the Priest slot was instrumental in pushing
the album near gold in the U.S.
Recalls Kick Axes Victor Langen, They
were top-notch all the way, fine gents. I think
Glenn and K.K. liked to go golfing, which I
found odd at the time. We didnt know any-
thing about golfing. I guess you have to have a
Scottish background [laughs]. But yeah, I just
remember being in awe of the whole thing, and
even meeting them in Calgary, Canada, when
we had our official contact with them. They
came down and saw us play. It was the very day
that Vices was released. We were doing a radio
broadcast on a radio station in Calgary, CJ92
or something, and these guys came down after
they played the Saddledome, and it was Rob
Halford personally that came to the dressing
room and just said they were giving the toss to
Great White, and it was a done deal that we had
to open for Priest on the rest of their North
American tour. And we thought, Holy God,
these guys are on heroin. This is just way
beyond reality. But he was true to his word.
And that was that.
In Atlanta, Georgia, they summoned us to
their dressing room, continues Victor. The big
tour manager guy comes to grab us from our
dressing room, at the end of their set, and he
says, Come with me; Judas Priest wants to
speak to you. And we thought, Oh no, were
getting fired [laughs]. And it was to give us shit
for hiding from them. Because we were just too
I just wanted to thank you
guys.We really needed
some newseats.
Dion DeTora
scared . . . I dont know what the word is, not
scared, but in awe of it all? We didnt want to
press ourselves on them to say hello or any-
thing. But they summoned us to their dressing
room in Atlanta and thats where things got
much better. They said, Look, we like you!
Dont be shy. Dont be hiding away. Lets be
buddies. And we did 35 dates with them. Id
like to catch up with them one of these days. . ..
The final leg saw the band in Japan for four
dates; this would be Priests first time back
since the recording of the landmark Unleashed
in the East live albums five years earlier.
In June of 84, a gig at Madison Square
Garden got out of control, with fans ripping up
their foam seats and tossing them toward the
stage. One report had Rob sitting on the forks
of his motorbike, uttering with a mischievous
laugh, New York, you sick motherfuckers
while a snowstorm of foam covered the stage.
K.K. later said that the bands insurers were on
the hook for more than a half-million dollars
in compensation to repair the damage. Weeks
after the fact, K.K. and Glenn were back at the
Garden to watch some tennis, after which an
MSG employee came up to them and said, I
just wanted to thank you guys. We really
needed some new seats.
Dion DeTora
(CBS, April 86)
Side 1
Turbo Lover
Locked in
Private Property
Parental Guidance
Rock You all Around the World
Side 2
Out in the Cold
Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days
Hot for Love
Flowers didnt grow
in our neighborhood
As is the mark of many a great band,
Priest chose not to stagnate come time
for the follow-up to Defenders of the
Faith. Defenders was indeed viewed by
many as the second of a pair with
Screaming for Vengeance, but no one was
about to make it a threesome. Turbo,
issued in April 1986, was to become the
most contentious album of the bands
career, arguably eclipsing the albums
from the Ripper years, and definitely
trumping the concern around the light-
but-still-on-track Point of Entry release.
Interestingly, given the two-year gap since
the last album, Priest talked about making
Turbo a double, sold close to single LP price as
sort of a gift to the fans, chock full of 18 songs,
allowing for more variety in style. K.K.s sug-
gested title for the project was Twin Turbos, and
it was to loosely encompass all the styles the
band had worked in thus far, spruced up by
current recording techniques. There was also
talk of issuing a double live album, com-
memorating the immense tour mounted for
Defenders of the Faith, and the tenth anniver-
sary of the bands partnership with CBS
Records. Indeed, the fact the band was brim-
ming with fresh ideas was part of the reason
behind nixing the live record, and all agreed
that after one more studio album, a live album
would be the ticket.
So instead we got the bands tenth studio
album, Turbo, a record that the ads called Fuel
for life!!! awkwardly adding Judas Priest slam
shifts into hyperdrive, and finally, exhorting
the masses to Get running on Turbo power!
With more time than ever to prepare for an
album, Priest got weird, recording in digital for
the first time, most notably adding guitar syn-
thesizers to the mix, something that baby
Priests Iron Maiden would adopt as well with
Somewhere in Time a few months later. Adding
to the intrigue, the band had decided to write
even more melodically, noting that melody
reigned on their biggest hits, even joking that all
the dark songs they were writing were begin-
ning to depress even them! As well,
unashamedly, just like Scorpions around the
time of Love at First Sting, the band really
wanted to break big, eyeing and envying upstart
competitors like Mtley Cre, Ratt, Dokken,
Quiet Riot, Def Leppard and Twisted Sister, and
cannily concluding that the time was right for
Priest to cash in with multi-platinum sales.
On the subject of the albums modern pro-
duction, Rob explained that, we utilized the
Sony Digital recording system, and the results
really belt out of the car radio or a home stereo.
Using that system gave us a very clean, yet very
heavy quality, which made it sound like we were
really there on the tape. I had never heard any-
thing sound quite so good before, especially by
us. It truly is an amazing advance.
With respect to the guitar synths, and their
interaction with Robs vocals, Halford says, it
really didnt make a difference to my perform-
ance. But I found that with the use of the guitar
synths, as well as digital rather than analog
flowers didnt grow in our neighborhood
recording, there is a great deal more nuance
available to the vocalist. Each instrument is so
clear theres room to try new things you might
have thought would get buried either in the
recording or the mix. Weve had the chance to
see the way technology has grown over the
years. Heavy metal has never been known for
using a great deal of subtlety or imagination in
its recording procedures, but weve gone out of
the way to find the most advanced and sophis-
ticated way of recording our music. Its made a
difference to us as musicians, and I feel it will
have an impact on the fans as well. Because of
the way we recorded it, Turbo has so much
more power and impact than our past albums.
We always strived for this kind of sound, but it
just wasnt available to us. When you combine
the improvements in sound quality with the
strength of the material we have, you end up
with an incredible album. We were able to
spend a great deal of time writing the songs for
this LP, and because we werent under a great
deal of time pressure, we were able to explore
areas we had not looked at before.
The actual sounds
coming out of the
speakers just
blew us away.
After writing sessions in Marbella, Spain,
the band went once again with Tom Allom to
Compass Point in Nassau in the summer of 85
for the recording of the album, Compass Point
being in possession of one of the first Sony
Digital systems. The band appreciated Tom
immensely (despite the occasional row), citing
his skills gained from his background as an
engineer before becoming a top-flight in-
demand producer. Bill Dooley, a Berklee
College of Music grad from a decade earlier,
was to be Toms assistant, hired officially as the
albums engineer.
Said Rob to Turbo Fax shortly after the
sessions, The songs, the performance, the pro-
duction everything just came together the
way we wanted. In a way, I believe its a more
sophisticated album and, of course, we defi-
nitely worked in a different recording style
with Sony Digital. That allowed us to explore
certain technical dimensions that wed never
worked in before. That enhanced the overall
quality and production. The actual sounds
coming out of the speakers just blew us away.
And, when youve worked in studios for as long
as we have, you can really tell the difference
between working digitally and the normal way.
More than anything, you get a better separa-
tion in the sounds, where nothing overlaps.
And since we were aware that we were going to
be making CDs, the best way to record them is
digitally. There are no keyboards it was just
guitar synths. When K.K. and Glenn began
working with them, one of the things that
really excited them was that they knew they
were going to be able to reproduce all of the
sounds onstage. If you listen closely, you can
actually tell it is a guitar-oriented sound. You
can get the pull of a string on a synthesized
guitar, which you cant get on a flat keyboard.
The physical aspects are all there. Glenn and
K.K. really had a handle on what they could do
with them and were able to explore a lot of new
areas, which ultimately helped to expand the
Priest sound. Using new technology is always
interesting, but you have to know exactly what
youre doing. I think what Glenn and K.K.
proved is that guitar synths can have an incred-
ible effect if theyre used properly. And theres
no reason why you shouldnt incorporate syn-
thesized sounds into metal music. You can still
make it sound strong, powerful and heavy.
But it was not all fun in the sun for the man
at the mic, Rob Halford. By this point, Rob was
a self-admitted alcoholic and cocaine addict,
partially as a result of the pressure to stay clos-
eted while all the male-female mayhem took
place on the wild road. Then his own private
life took a turn for the worse. Most of the men
flowers didnt grow in our neighborhood
Im attracted to are straight men, said Rob, to
The Advocate. The boy I was dating back then
had a cocaine problem. We had one of those
bombastic physical attractions, and there was a
tremendous amount of violence. We used to
beat the crap out of each other in the drunken
and cocaine rages that we had. And one day we
were fighting, and I left for my own safety and
called a cab. As I was getting in the cab, he
came up to me and said, Look, I just want to
let you know I love you very much. And when
he turned away, I saw that he had a gun.
Moments later, he put the gun to his head and
killed himself.
Rob checked into a Phoenix rehab on
January 6, 1986, after the incident, as he had
the previous year, when a Percodan overdose
put him in the hospital, shortly after a
November 85 rehearsal for the Turbo tour. He
emerged 33 days later, sober and staying that
way, with a sense that his bandmates hadnt
taken his plight very seriously, K.K. pretty
much admitting as much, thinking it was per-
haps all a normal part of being a rock n roller.
Ive been there, havent I? mused Rob
years later on this chapter of his life, and rumi-
nating on the death of Alice in Chains Layne
Staley. Ive been there myself, so I can under-
stand why you were supposedly driven to do
this. Its simple too much of anything is a
bad thing. To excess of whatever it might be
apart from music too much booze, too
much smoking, too much drugs; its just
destructive. But thats a story in and of itself.
That would be a great interview, to talk to
people, Why did you get into that world?
Sometimes you dont deliberately enter it. It
seems that most musicians have compul-
sive/excessive disorders I know I do. And so
when I started drinking and drugging, it was
like, keep doing it and doing it and doing it
until youre unconscious on the floor you
dont know when to stop.
Getting back to Turbo, Glenn had said at the
time that the band indeed had come up with
19 songs, but when the label had shot down the
idea of an expensive and somewhat odd double
heavy metal studio album, this left the band
with ample choice of songs for the slimmed-
down record to come. The plan was to go with
the more upbeat songs of the bunch, and
wishfully thinking add a bunch of the
unused tunes to the live album that was firmly
in the works for the period following Turbo.
K.K. had expressed reservations with respect to
the fan reaction to the relatively accessible
songs selected, adding that the silver lining to
going with the commercial tracks was that the
album would reflect an unprecedented consis-
tency of style for one of the bands records.
Nine of the tracks from these double
album sessions would end up comprising
Turbo, with four others Ram it Down,
Hard as Iron,Love You to Death and Mon-
sters of Rock ending up on the next studio
album, Ram it Down. Two of the tracks,
Under the Gun and Fighting for Your Love,
are still unreleased, while Red, White & Blue,
Prisoner of Your Eyes and All Fired Up
showed up as bonus tracks on the remastered
reissues of the bands catalog with CBS.
Even the Turbo album cover seemed curi-
ously light, artist Doug Johnson for the third
time turning in a wrapper in a cartoony direc-
tion, this one with washed-out, less bold
colors, but with a convincing sense of motion
captured nonetheless.
The album kicked off proudly with an
anthem for the day, an erstwhile title track
called Turbo Lover. This ones got Rob a bit
camp, a bit silly in his seduction, as the band
builds a sophisticated series of oneupmanships.
The song was inspired by Porsche Turbos, Ian
pointing out that K.K. and Glenn had recently
bought them, adding that he had even bought a
vacuum cleaner once himself because it was
called a turbo. The guitar solo is one of
Glenns best of the period, well-composed, like
the track, building in a head-of-steam fashion.
Turbo Lover was issued as the records first
single, backed with Hot for Love for release
simultaneous with the album, in the U.K., then
backed with Reckless for issue in the States
three months later. The video for Turbo
Lover sees the band riding through the desert
on motorcycles, shot in annoying infrared,
chased by a proposed mascot for the band, a
scrap-metal robot with a skull head.
Locked In is sort of son of Turbo Lover,
a similarly joyous brisk rocker with many of
flowers didnt grow in our neighborhood
the same fresh textures surprisingly, it
would be played live on the ensuing tour, then
no more. A compositional pattern was getting
established, and that was of a record that had
strong choruses that elevated the game of what
came before. Sure, Turbo was adding up to
something sort of happy and even juvenile, but
through the controversy around the guitar syn-
thesizers, Priest cut a new sophistication of
hook. Whereas on Turbo Lover, the speaker is
the aggressor, until both engines purr with
delight, Locked In is a standard girl, you
drive me crazy lyric that wouldnt win any
awards for originality.
Locked In was launched as the albums
second single, backed with Hot for Love in
the States and Reckless in the U.K., the U.K.
12 adding live versions of Desert Plains and
Freewheel Burning. Neither of Turbos two
singles would chart, although the album would
hit #33 in the U.K. and #17 in America. The
American showing matched roughly that of
Defenders, which notched a #18 slot, but #33 in
the U.K. was a big drop from Defenders #19
placement, demonstrating an oft-proven
maxim, namely that Americans like their metal
sweeter and neater.
The video for Locked In is a classic bit of
80s silliness, the band racing to the scene on
motorbikes (not Harleys either, but Honda
Rebels), while a semi-mechanical skeleton
(the same one as in the Turbo Lover video)
mimes the odd vocal and twitches around.
Rob gets caged by a gaggle of cagey women in
a surreal torch-lit B-movie cave setting and
hung upside down on a swinging gurney.
K.K. and Glenn prowl around, disarm an
obese and diapered worker with a Twinkie
enticement and rescue Rob. Dave and Ian sort
of look on while K.K. and Glenn accomplish
the rescue.
Ian calls Locked In the most elaborate
video of the entire Priest repertoire. That was
a huge production, really. It took two or three
days to record that. Locked In and Turbo
Lover were done in L.A., where all the music
companies are. Money-wise, with videos, you
might get an advance, but whatever you got as
an advance had to be paid back. In the long
run, the band usually ends up paying for most
things. But we didnt really object, not really. I
mean, it helped to promote the album. You can
add a few thousand album sales on the end. So
whatever you spent on the video, you would
recoup it. And of course, theres always the
opportunity to release the video in its own
right, as weve done.
Both videos, along with all of Priests pre-
ceding clips since 1980, were issued in 1986 on
a VHS video called Fuel for Life, which was cer-
tified gold in April of the following year. The
promotional campaign for Turbo was also
loosely deemed Fuel for Life, and it featured
flowers didnt grow in our neighborhood
keep doing it and doing
it and doing it until
youre unconscious on
the floor you dont
know when to stop.
comical TV ads for the album, one with Rob as
a crossing guard, another with Rob in a suit,
spoofing an American Express ad.
Next up on the album was Private Prop-
erty, melodic but dark, with a bit of a Youve
Got Another Thing Comin chug, along with a
few nice shifts of tone and a noisy but enter-
taining axe solo from Glenn. As a trivia note,
Jeff Martin from Surgical Steel, a friend of
Robs from their shared Phoenix base, ended
up getting invited down to the Bahamas with
his wife, all expenses paid for two weeks, to
help out, uncredited, on the album. Martin
provided a verse of lyrics to this one, as well as
backing vocals on Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy
Days. A further Priest connection would arise
through Martins membership in Racer X,
which would cough up a drummer named
Scott Travis to the band come 1990s Painkiller.
Julio Eglesias was also at Compass Point
recording at the time, and Martin recalls
fondly beating him at pool. The presence of
Eglesias prompted weak and short-lived
rumors that Priest were recording a song with
the tanned crooner. As far as it seemed to get
was a quip from Eglesias that he would like to
take a crack at Prisoner of Your Eyes.
I know exactly how that came about, says
Glenn, of the rumor. We were recording at the
same studio and actually, weve recorded in the
same place as him twice, once in Florida, and
once in Nassau. In actual fact, at the one
studio, Sony had bought him a Ferrari Testa
Rossa for selling so many records, which pissed
us off because we were on Sony as well, and we
couldnt understand why they hadnt bought
us one. Of course, he always used to have two
or three serious-looking girls on his arm, so
Julio is a bit of a hero of ours. But I dont think
there was ever talk of recording with him. It
would have been interesting. If he let me have
the Testa Rossa, I would certainly consider let-
ting him do that [laughs].
Priest really got down to pandering for
Parental Guidance, a shockingly simple
kiddie rocker that, granted, has some value in
terms of Rob checklisting the plight of the mis-
understood teenager as he argues with dad.
The vocal melody is too much for the longtime
Priest fan to bear, but an endearing twist
occurs at the end, with the pimply miscreant
inviting dad out for some rock n roll. Past the
printed lyric, Rob knocks off a quote from
Youve Got Another Thing Comin and then
the track, fortunately, is done.
Parental Guidance was motivated by the
fact that, at the time, a debate was raging about
the alleged harmful qualities of heavy metal
lyrics, Tipper Gore and the PMRC being the
most vocal about it, with various TV religious
fanatics staging record burnings while raving
about (what turned out to be a fictional) epi-
demic of child abductions for use in satanic
rituals. Priest seemed to take the most stick for
the last albums Eat Me Alive, K.K. remarking
that while they were mixing the album, he
would catch out of the corner of his eye the
song being pilloried through various TV
reports. Amusingly, K.K. also says that part of
the reason the lyrics are so benign all over
Turbo was that he could envision the PMRC
looking for more filth, but having to go away
empty-handed. In any event, Eat Me Alive
was #3 on Tippers Filthy 15 and very serious
lobbying was underway to get the songs of
Priest and many others (including Cyndi
Lauper!) stickered as naughty.
On the press trail for the album, Rob talked
about Parental Guidance, and why no video
had been shot for the popular track. The
reason we didnt do one for it was we felt the
subject matter of the song had been a little
oversaturated in recent months. We were con-
cerned there might be a negative reaction to it
if we had put it out first. Locked In represented
the overall style of the Turbo album. We want to
go with the song that when people heard it on
the radio, theyd say, A-ha, its Judas Priest.
Its understandable that people would cast a
disapproving glare toward Judas Priest for
giving in to commercial concerns. But you had
to hand it to them they didnt try to hide the
fact that they were selling out, or at least giving
it a shot. Indeed, one could call this selling out
flowers didnt grow in our neighborhood
But when you create something,
its your duty to want the
world to see it.
for maybe the third time. As discussed earlier,
British Steel was a pronounced dumbing-down
of the sound after the magnificence of Hell
Bent for Leather, and Point of Entry was a
sweetening of British Steels riff-dependent
style for radio.
You can go so far in heavy metal, said K.K.
back in the summer of 86, dollar signs
swirling. You can become quite famous, quite
well-off financially, but you never get big, real
big. Judas Priest has been coming to America
for nearly ten years, and weve got a great fol-
lowing on the road. God, we play to thousands
of people. But our biggest-selling album to
date has been only 1.5 million. That was
Screaming for Vengeance, and thats because it
had Youve Got Another Thing Comin on it.
Its a frustrating thing, really, doing an album
and still selling to the same people, getting the
same amount in the concerts. I think Judas
Priest has got to make it big before we wrap it
up. Youve got to have that four- or five-
million-selling album. And then we can rest
assured that bands following in our footsteps
have got a good chance out there. Not as
though were saying, Hang on, all this isnt
enough for us. But when you create some-
thing, its your duty to want the world to see it.
K.K. then marvels at the idea of there being
at least five potential singles on Turbo, adding
the caveat, If none of them take off in a big
way, I think somebodys trying to tell us some-
thing. About the double album idea, he says,
We had nine tracks that were out-and-out
headbanging, heavy stuff that nobody except
our fans would ever play, and then the nine
tracks that we put on this album. We decided
to go with this lot first, because it works really
well together. Whats on this album is the one
side of Judas Priest, like Living After Mid-
night, Breaking the Law, and Youve Got
Another Thing Comin. All the stuff weve got
left is . . . demonic. Ill tell you what, if this
album goes ignored, then watch out, as the
next album is gonna make em really want to
vomit! Well probably put together the worst-
sounding, most diabolical, witch-hunting
album youve ever heard [laughs].
Addressing the topic of the tour, K.K. adds,
Its important for us to play, so the word gets
around that Judas Priest concerts are OK we
dont swear between songs, and things like that.
Theres lots of kids out there who want to go to
Judas Priest concerts but people wont let them
the next album is gonna make
em reallywant to vomit!
Well probably put together
the worst-sounding, most
album youve ever heard.
because of this image weve got, which is totally
wrong. I suppose its our fault. We went around
for ten years into radio stations in leather
jackets and studs. And I guess when we walked
out the door, they probably just laughed at us a
little bit. But we were very sincere.
Everybody comes from a pretty poor back-
ground, reflected K.K., candidly charting the
journey so far. When we started playing
music, we didnt sing about love, because the
band was in a different frame of mind. Every-
body had sort of a chip on his shoulder; we
wrote songs we thought had more to do with
our lives than with love and flowers and all
that. Flowers didnt grow in our neighborhood.
You think, OK, weve been depressed for so
long, writing all this dodgy music for so long
. . . our lives are different now, so why shouldnt
we go out there and write songs like Rock You
all Around the World and Wild Nights, Hot &
Crazy Days? Songs that we can play to friends,
relatives . . . the builder, the chimney sweep. If
its on the turntable when he walks into your
house, he doesnt sort of walk in like this, says
K.K. making a sour face. This is OK, its our
record, and we dont have to take it off . . . we
play it at parties!
And what party would be complete without
the aforementioned Rock You all Around the
World? Except for the ridiculous Scorpions/
Spinal Tap title, this one is at least fast. But then
theres that ganged and sing-songy chorus,
which includes the salvo, Were gonna rock,
were gonna roll and a generational prediction
of metal might from Rob that sounds like a
Pepsi commercial. Damn, the whole lyric
sounds like Scorpions meets Saxon, and musi-
cally, this could have amusingly fit on the
flaccid Savage Amusement album. Theres
nothing rich in Priest heritage about this one.
We are indeed in a happy place.
Side two of the original vinyl opens with a
lumbering, melodramatic rocker called Out in
the Cold. Those synth guitars bray away as
they have for much of the first side. This ones
another moody and bitter love song, like (one
possible reading of) Private Property. As with
the last two albums, the drum sound on Turbo
is highly synthetic, in the notorious 80s style.
With the airy architecture of this song, the
stodgy percussive backbeat really becomes a
distraction. Still, there are some nice guitar
weaves, as well as a dark break section.
Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days was of a
party metal sort beneath the reputation of the
band. Still, its passable, the verse in possession
of a bit more verve (of an AC/DC sort) than
the simple and dull chorus. Hot for Love is
the records second-to-last track, and this ones
a down and dirty rocker, dark, pulsatingly
flowers didnt grow in our neighborhood
insistent, the lyric, however, nothing more
than another plainspoken man-on-the-prowl
Turbo closes with Reckless, the album now
neatly bracketed with two classics of the Priest
catalog. The riff is highly memorable, the rise
toward the chorus stirring, Robs vocal ragged
and impassioned. Even as it fits the highly
melodic nature of the album as a whole, this
ones got a regal quality, as well as one of the
bands coolest guitar solos. Reckless is a
stinging reminder of how good this album
could have been. As with Scorpions, the
writing of melodic, accessible, radio-friendly
songs that were also smart proved hard to
manage, but not impossible.
Warner Bros. had agreed that Reckless
was a good song, expressing interest in using it
for the Tom Cruise movie Top Gun. The
problem was that Warner had wanted an exclu-
sive track, and it was too late in the game to
pull it from the album covers had been
printed up already. K.K. now somewhat regrets
the move, given that both the movie and the
soundtrack album turned out to be a big hit,
with the album selling over five million copies.
K.K. chuckles that the band had no idea who
Tom Cruise was at the time. The band had sug-
gested to Warner three other tracks for
consideration, but those were shot down.
As discussed, there were indeed extra tracks
cooked up in the Turbo sessions. On the 2001
remaster reissue of Turbo, the bonus tracks
were a live version of Locked In as well as All
Fired Up, a speed metaller curiously lacking in
power, perhaps a bit too sanitized, but fairly
sophisticated of melody. Its all stuff we didnt
know we had, said Ian, musing oer the remas-
ters. When we went looking through the CBS
archives for the masters to remaster, we discov-
ered all this stuff. Wed totally forgotten about
it. More famous is Heart of a Lion, namely
because Jeff Martins band Racer X recorded it
in 87 for their Second Heat album, and again
for their live album in 92. Scott Travis was in
the band by then, so this is, weirdly, his first
recording of a Priest song. Heart of a Lion is
a standard and somewhat plodding and pedes-
trian hair-metal rocker it debuted in demo
form (i.e. much less polished than the also
unissued All Fired Up) on the Metalogy box
set from 2004.
Explains Scott, Jeff Martin, the singer for
Racer X, and Rob, both being residents of
Phoenix, had been friends for many years, back
when Jeff was in a band called Surgical Steel
and Rob would come out and see him. And
somehow they became friends, long before I
joined Racer X. And I dont know exactly how,
but Rob gave Jeff a demo of this song Heart of
a Lion, of Priest doing it, and this is a demo,
and then I dont know if Rob said, Why dont
you do it? or if Jeff asked, and said, Hey, can
we do this song? But nonetheless, Rob defi-
nitely willingly gave the song to Jeff to listen to
or check out, because they werent going to use
it. And that was it, and they just drummed it
up one day, figured it out in rehearsal one day
and thought, Hey, this would be a cool song.
Again, this is just me theorizing. I bet Priest
wished they had kept it.
Asked about the rumor that K.K. and Glenn
had had no knowledge of the transaction, and
that at the time, they were a little ticked off
about it, Scott answers diplomatically: Well,
youd have to ask them. I really dont know
other than, obviously, to record anybodys song
you have to get permission, and we certainly
did, and thats why on the Racer X album it
lists those three guys as the songwriters. And
Im sure they get one or two dollars a year in
royalties [laughs], so they definitely had to sign
off on it at some point, and say Yeah, well
allow this group to do our song. But how it ini-
tially transpired, I dont really know.
I think that if we had been ashamed of
Turbo, we would never had released it, said
Rob, looking back five years after the experience
of creating this contentiously saccharine album
so indicative of metal in the mid 80s. The fact
flowers didnt grow in our neighborhood
Ken Hower (
is Turbo was a successful album, particularly in
America. Its gone platinum, which is over a
million copies. You know, bands go through
different periods musically and image-wise,
and Im happy that weve been able to do that.
Again, coming back to this feeling of not
wanting to be repeating yourself over and over
again with the clothes, with the music that you
play, just trying to have something new to say
all the time. . . . Were just trying, like weve
always done, to show people that heavy metal
isnt just one dimension. Its not just like heavy
riffs in A, or heavy riffs in the chord of E. You
can take it lots of different ways. So, Judas Priest
is Turbo Lover, Judas Priest is Freewheel
Burning, Judas Priest is Living After Midnight,
Judas Priest is Victim of Changes. Were all of
these different bands. I think commercial suc-
cess isnt really important. I think the solid
hardcore following that you have from your
fans is the most important thing. Commercial
success to me is Guns N Roses. Commercial
success to me is Iron Maiden. Thats not Judas
Priest! Were an album-orientated band, and
with British Steel, we had a few singles. That
helped us to some extent, but our basic hard-
core following is with the records, the LPs.
Nothing else. And Id much rather be in that
situation than be in a fashionable, commercial
heavy metal band thats famous for ten minutes
and then disappears.
Turbo Lover, you watch us play that
onstage, and its great, people love it, adds
Glenn. And I think you have to realize that
some things we do are experimental; weve
always been a brave band. But then again,
youve got to imagine Priest playing those
songs onstage. A lot of albums weve done,
people are apprehensive. But nearly always,
they come back and say, You know what, I
really like that album.
Thats certainly true with Turbo, responds
Ian. Because it was so different, it did get a
very mixed reception from the press. But it did
gather us a lot of new fans as well, and in hind-
sight now, its probably a landmark album of
ours, just because it was so different. And like
Glenn says, a lot of those people who didnt
particularly like it to start with are now looking
back on it with great fondness.
Were worried if people like our new
album when it first comes out now, because
they might go off it, laughs Glenn, adding,
Weve always been looking for new angles. I
think I can safely state that when you hear a
Priest album, its unmistakably Judas Priest;
weve never rested on our laurels, as a lot of
bands do. You can do a million albums world-
wide by doing the same album with different
lyrics, and weve never been like that. Thats the
easy way out. Weve always been brave enough
to try some different things and weve suffered
for it. People dont always get it straight away,
and maybe it isnt always right anyway. But we
believe weve got to try. And we just wanted to
introduce synth guitar round about that time.
We thought it would be a unique thing for
metal. It was an experiment, it was pushing the
Were just trying, like
weve always done, to show
people that heavy metal
isnt just one dimension.
horizons further apart, it was creating more
maneuverability for us, or air for us to
maneuver in. And at the same time, for other
bands. And, you know, certain people came
down on us at the time, but even now, as I said,
if you hear Priest play Turbo Lover live, its
not a wimp song. Its a very, very heavy song.
Sometimes you come into criticism and
its justifiable, but I think sometimes people
can criticize you a little early on, before they
figure out what youre trying to do. Weve
always been willing to experiment, and thats
what Turbo was all about: synth guitars. And of
course, it wasnt long after that that other
bands fell in and did the same thing. So in
some way, whether it was right or wrong, it was
a little bit innovative. In those days, it was very
difficult to use. You had to have a lot of
patience. It glitched a lot. Things have come a
long way now, but you dealt with the technique
on a live basis. If there were any glitches, you
could probably get away with them, as long as
you got the general feel of the song across. But
yes, they were a bit of a nightmare.
K.K. rounds out the defense, years down the
line. That was a very successful album for us,
worldwide in actual fact. We were actually
playing arenas in Europe with that album.
Now, you wouldnt think that album really was
geared up to the European metal fans. They
like it a little harder, especially in Germany,
Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway.
But it was very successful for us.
flowers didnt grow in our neighborhood
(CBS, June 87)
Side 1
Out in the Cold
Heading out to the Highway
Metal Gods
Breaking the Law
Side 2
Love Bites
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
The Sentinel
Private Property
Side 3
Rock You all Around the World
Electric Eye
Turbo Lover
Freewheel Burning
Side 4
Parental Guidance
Living After Midnight
Youve Got Another Thing Comin
Wellalways play to that same
one million people
Priest . . . Live!
K.K. makes a good point with respect to
how Judas Priest more than thrived as a
live entity. In later years, Downing was to
marvel that, although Turbo went gold
quickly and then stalled at platinum,
Priest were routinely playing to crowds
as big as those of bands selling four and
five times as many records, reckoning
that the fans must be so loyal as to be fol-
lowing the guys around and attending
multiple shows, more so than what was
happening with Priests competitors.
During press interviews at the time, K.K. also
introduced to the world the stately home that
would bring him much pleasure in later years as
a sanctuary from the wail of heavy metal. I
bought a house 18 months ago in the Severn
Valley near Birmingham, which is probably a
mistake, because I never ever get there. The
floorboards are probably dry-rotted. I bought a
Porsche Turbo a year ago, and its got 800 miles
on the clock. So thats rusting away in Green-
wich somewhere, but who really cares? This is
whats important, to be out here playing.
Added K.K., As long as we continue to be
what we are, and produce what we do, well
always play to that same one million people,
without any hit singles or airplay. And yet, a
million people in this country really dig getting
off on our music. Its aggressive, and its a
release. Thats why kids come to the concerts,
because they feel that. Just to get out there and
thrash the shit out of the guitar, its big! Its
what you live for, its every mans dream. It is
. . . well, OK, its not. So some guys want a
decent position on Wall Street. My dream is to
go out there and see young girls in the audi-
ence looking at you and see kids cheering.
Youve got the guitar, and its loud and power-
ful and it hurts, in the right places. And I think
that is probably what its all about.
All of this very palpable Priest mania was to
be captured on Priest . . . Live!, released in June
of 1987, both as a video and as a double album,
wrapped in a monochrome sleeve, black on
copper, very basic, but weirdly, arguably . . .
pleasing, even if the lone gatefold live shot and
two useless and drab inserts offered little in the
way of additional eye candy.
At this point, Judas Priest had gone half-
heartedly for a hair metal look to match their
new songs, hence curly perms, Robs leaning
toward a prissy, fussy mullet. As well, the stage
clothes toned down the toughness by adding
bits of color here and there.
K.K. said that the band was obviously
looking for something to refresh the image,
Thats why kids come to the
concerts, because they feel
that. Just to get out there
and thrash the shit out
of the guitar, its big!
because so many bands are starting to look like
us that its starting to scare us, you know?
Because theyre not recognizing us anymore;
they think were Metallica. Were not going to
influence bands that much longer unless we
come up with something new to influence them
with. So with the album, the cover, the stage set,
the stage clothes, everything is what we think
will be the next step in what were known as.
We feel weve moved beyond that, sniffed
Halford with respect to the bands trademark
black leather and studs. There is still plenty
of leather and even some studs associated
with the bands look, but the black leather
look was becoming a bit dated. Also, so many
other bands had picked up on that look from
us, it was losing its unique identity. Were
giving the group a higher profile this time. We
want the look to be as modern and as strong
as the music. And when you have an album as
strong as Turbo, coming up with that look has
taken a great deal of imagination.
The stage set for the Turbo tour, designed by
TomMcPhillips, was the bands most elaborate
yet, containing, according to one report, 550
computer-programmed lights, 112 speaker
cabinets and 26,000 watts of power, adminis-
tered by 25 full-time crew members. The scene
was playing out like Ronnie James Dio and his
Dio bands career arc. For Dio, things were
pretty crazy for the energetic Last in Line tour,
and then over the top, silly and unwieldy to the
point of bloated in support of the lighter, less
successful album, Sacred Heart. Priest, on
Well always play to that same one million people
Youve got the guitar, and
its loud and powerfuland it
hurts, in the right places.
record and on tour, were charting much the
same course, from Defenders through Turbo.
Yeah, weve had some accidents; its a
dangerous thing to do, mused K.K., adding
that the bands new stage partner, a robot he
calls Turbo-something, gets a bit out of
hand sometimes, a bit unruly. It gets a bit tired,
too. Youve got the claws that lift you up, and
theres also a foot thing. If the foot thing
doesnt work, you sort of stand there, and next
thing you know, its round your neck.
I can remember that tour vividly, muses
Ian. It was a great production. That was one of
the reasons we used the tape [Priest reissued
the long out-of-print show as part of the Elec-
tric Eye DVD in 2003]. We wanted to portray a
full Priest production show in all its glory. And
that was one of the best tours, with the robot,
lights and lasers. Sometimes there were prob-
lems. A large robot would come out in the back
to the stage, behind the drum riser, and it
would actually pick up Ken and Glenn. And on
a couple of locations, things would happen and
they would be left hanging up in the air. Yeah,
there were few hairy moments.
The mechanical parts were incorporated
into other shows, explains Ian, when asked
where the robot resides today. The stuff per-
taining to Turbo ended up getting scrapped.
Some of the stage sets are enormous. You just
cant keep them. It would be a waste of time.
Its not something you would end up using
again; you would scrap them or reuse the scaf-
folding or whatever.
I think the Metallian stage show was the
most awesome heavy metal stage that was ever
put together, continues K.K., referring to the
Sometimes therewere
problems. A large robot
would actually pick up Ken
and Glenn. And on a couple of
locations, things would
happen and they would be
left hanging up in the air.
set previous to Turbo, for Defenders. But it was
very evil and eerie. This new guy is a friendly
monster; hes cool. The Metallian was not
really friendly. He just stood there and sneered
at us all night.
The only live date Priest played in 1985 was
Bob Geldof s Live Aid behemoth. Rob looked
extra cool in high-class black shades, very
blond hair and full leather on a hot sunny day.
This is where Rob got to meet Joan Baez, the
writer of Diamonds and Rust, Baez fully
aware of Priests version and thanking Rob for
coming up with it.
The Turbo tour, dubbed Fuel for Life, got
underway in May of 86 in the American
Southwest, with Dokken as support. As men-
tioned, the staging was a bit of a chore, but so
was other technology the band had put to use,
including drum triggers and the accursed
guitar synths, which kept malfunctioning.
Early in the tour, in Landover, Maryland, the
legendary Heavy Metal Parking Lot documen-
tary was shot, the film consisting of all
egregious manner of Priest fans liquoring up
for the big show that night, proclaiming their
undying allegiance to the metal gods.
An amusing moment was the Kerrang!-
fueled rumor that Dave Holland wasnt playing
the drums. Given the tricky drum-triggering
equipment, the band had brought along Legs
Diamonds Jonathan Valen to help sort it out.
Tipton had quipped that Valen fancied himself
a bit of a star and had even gone as far as
wearing stage clothes and giving an interview.
Well always play to that same one million people
The tour continued through the States in
June and into Canada in July of 86. Krokus
was now supporting, as the band crossed back
into America in August.
I was always so happy to tour with Priest,
because we were so respected by the lads,
recalls Krokus lead singer Marc Storace. And I
even played tennis with them K.K. and
Glenn and our tour manager did too. It was
fun being with the Priest, because they were
always saying, Are you happy with everything?
Anything you need? Really nice. Compared to
. . . well, I wont mention anybody. We had an
audience that appreciated both bands, and
thats very important when you have a package
together. We also toured with them on
Screaming for Vengeance, but with this second
tour, my dad had died. I was quite melancholic
before the Change of Address release, and they
were really nice. I remember them being very
soothing to my soul. Rob was somehow not as
much around as the other guys. But when we
were recording the album Headhunter, we were
in Orlando, Florida, and we had their pro-
ducer, Tom Allom, in the control room, and
Rob turned up and did some backing vocals
with me I believe it was Screaming in the
Night and Ready to Burn.
As regards working with Allom, Storace
talks about much of what aided the Priest in
achieving success, beginning with the Allom-
fueled rethink of the band on British Steel. He
tried not to bring them in too much, to kind of
separate Krokus from Priest. He wouldnt play
the Priest thing on us, like, Hey, when I work
with Priest, I do it this way, so lets do it this
way too. He was very neutral with us. But I
Dion DeTora
noticed always, in the back of his mind, he was
thinking of the fans. That was his first priority.
He understood very well the metal and the
rock n roll mentality. He would say, Lets keep
it simple, lets keep it straight, lets keep it rock
n roll hey, think of the fans. He would even
resort to some jokes and so on, about some of
those fans that get extreme with their alcohol
and drugs. But there again, he liked raising his
glass [laughs].
Rob is an absolute screamer, whereas I had
to work on it, build it up, muses Storace, when
asked about Halfords place in metal history.
Great attitude, great image, Breaking the Law,
Screaming for Vengeance, the whole thing, the
Harley Davidson onstage, the leather and studs
. . . its like the consummate heavy metal image.
And I think no one beats that. Rob is Rob, and
thats it. He carries out the performance really
well, and hes a really nice guy at the bottom of
it, too, as a human being. As far as Im con-
cerned, hes 100 percent genuine.
Eighty-odd shows completed, Judas Priest
crossed the pond to Europe, Warlock (Doro
Peschs Priest- and Accept-like act) in support
from September through October, before hit-
ting Japan and Hawaii in December. And as
discussed, a slice of this life can be heard on
Priest . . . Live!, which was recorded over two
dates, Atlanta and Dallas, in June of 86. Like
Turbo, this one was also recorded on Sony
Digital. Unfortunately, contrary to the bands
plan, no previously unreleased Judas Priest
songs were to be found on the final product.
And also unfortunately, the album doesnt live
up to the fire-breathing standard of Unleashed
in the East, one of the greatest live albums of all
Well always play to that same one million people
Dion DeTora
Dion DeTora
the whole thing,
the Harley Davidson
onstage, the leather and
studs . . . its like the
consummate heavy metal
image. And I think
no one beats that.
Dion DeTora
Dion DeTora
time. As Exit . . . Stage Left is to All the Worlds
a Stage, and as Extraterrestrial Live is to On
Your Feet or on Your Knees, Priest . . . Live! is the
work of a band that has satisfied many of its
goals, playing to yet another huge anonymous
throng, whereas Unleashed in the East is a
hungry record made by road-frazzled carni-
vores still slaking a ravenous rock n roll thirst.
Still, be glad that a second live Priest album
happened. So many of these songs Out in
the Cold, Private Property, Rock You all
Around the World, Parental Guidance and
even to some extent, Love Bites and Some
Heads Are Gonna Roll would make rare
appearances in a live setting. And its also kind
of nifty that the album offered zero overlap
with the track list from Unleashed indeed,
the oldest songs on the album hail from
British Steel, with a live version of Youve Got
Another Thing Comin launched as a single.
The album is fairly punchy though, with some
interesting quirks. Some Heads Are Gonna
Roll actually grooves (this live drum sound,
although not superlative, kills that of the
Defenders album). There are also strange back-
ground vocals in places: Private Property
emanates enthusiasm (although those hands
off! crowd chants are a bit suspect), and
Metal Gods includes a few fleetingly dif-
ferent chords and vocal melodies. The 2001
remaster of the album offered three bonus live
tracks in Screaming for Vengeance, Hell
Bent for Leather (which breaks the cut-off
rule) and another live rarity in Rock Hard
Ride Free.
I didnt really like the second live Priest
record, concurs Halford, offering a sentiment
pretty much universal with fans of the band.
There was something about it that didnt
quite hit the mark. It just doesnt quite get to
the goalpost. But I agree about Unleashed in the
East; thats an extraordinary moment.
Unleashed will always remain in its own little
world, which is what it should do.
Priest . . . Live! didnt even manage gold at
the time (it was certified at that level in 2001
the video went gold in 88), and its U.K. chart
placement at #47 (#38 in the States) demon-
strated that this most definitely wasnt the
golden beholden live record days of the late
70s that spawned such hits as Alive!, Frampton
Comes Alive, Live and Dangerous and Strangers
in the Night. Times had changed, the music
business seemed more about business than
music, and Priest most definitely werent doing
themselves any favors with expensive haircuts
and pop music in their metal to match.
Well always play to that same one million people
Ram it Down
(CBS, May 88)
Side 1
Ram it Down
Heavy Metal
Love Zone
Come and Get It
Hard as Iron
Side 2
Blood Red Skies
Im a Rocker
Johnny B. Goode
Love You to Death
Monsters of Rock
Pneumatic fingers
and laser rays
Ram it Down
The nadir of the Priest story, besides the
debate over the Ripper years records, has
got to be Ram it Down. I dont know
what it is about this record, but the fact
that the guys went back to rocking out
fast and furious after Turbo sort of back-
fired. Unlike the enthusiastic response to
Screaming for Vengeance after the light-
in-the-loafers Point of Entry spread, here
Halford wailing away at the high end
over howling riffs aplenty was met with
indifference. It looked like Priest were
panicking, rehashing, reliving past glo-
ries. Singing songs about heavy metal
called Heavy Metal just wasnt going to
cut it, given the fireworks of the thriving
thrash movement at the time, and given
fresh and artistic heavy sounds begin-
ning to emerge from Seattle.
Ram it Down was recorded at Puk Studios
in Denmark in the dead of winter (the band
dubbed it Ice Station Zebra), and was issued on
May 17, 1988, just short of a year after another
who cares record from Priest, the browned-
out live album. A certain bloat seemed to have
set in, one that began with the mechanized
production values of Defenders, worked its way
through the gleeful sellout of Turbo, then the
unnecessary live album, and now this. Dave
Holland himself admitted that he hadnt even
played on the album.
K.K. wont completely confirm Hollands
remark, but he has conceded that there isnt
much of Holland on the album. Yeah, I
guess we did sequence a lot of the drum work
on Ram it Down, for whatever reason. Maybe
as a band, you just go through certain fads, and
I think we all had a go on the keyboards Oh
that sounds great; let me have a go! [laughs].
And I think guitar players always want to be
drummers, and obviously, its the drummers
worst nightmare if youve got all these drum
machines to play around with, and try all these
patterns. Now it probably stands out like a sore
thumb, but in those days, I think we thought
that we got away with it [laughs]. But the thing
is, it just brought about this kind of energy, and
I think the band was actually looking at a time,
when I think about it, to move on from the
basic rock movement where you just lay down
the beat in simpler but heavy, solid fashion. I
mean, it wasnt the reason Dave left. He left
through his own personal circumstances and
Reushe/Retna Ltd
reasons, but then we did get Scott Travis in,
who could do more. He had the double-kick
drum set and he could play really fast, and so
that gave us the ability to create stuff with
higher energy.
People still cared to some extent about what
was left of the Priest and its reputation: the
new album quickly went gold, and the bands
inexplicable Johnny B. Goode single, a
wholesale overhaul of the Chuck Berry classic,
built on request for the movie Johnny Be Good,
at least hit the lower rungs of the charts in the
U.K. (but not in the U.S.). The album rose to
#24 in the U.K. and #31 in the U.S., roughly
reversing the success of Turbo, that records
bubblegum melodies not surprisingly faring
better in an AOR-happy America than in the
U.K. Press on the band was thin on the ground
though, and it seemed very much like Priest
were seen as also-rans. Ram it Down sold in
spite of itself.
Before Ram it Down was issued, but after it
was recorded, the band dabbled a bit in the pop
world by getting together with the S/A/W pro-
duction team (Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and
Pete Waterman), a hot mixing team of pop hits
at the time with connections to Priest from the
Gull Records days. The band actually recorded
two S/A/W songs, You Keep Giving Me the
Runaround and I Will Return, along with a
Motown cover, You Are Everything, but the
sound was so contentiously pop (apparently
the band fell about laughing when they heard
the final mixes), that the label actually asked
that the songs not be commercially issued.
Said Rob, at the time, We split up the
studio jobs they respected us as songwriters
and it was an interesting idea. Unfortunately, I
think, those songs have nothing to do with
pneumatic fingers and laser rays
I think guitar players always
want to be drummers, and
obviously, its the drummers
worst nightmare if youve
got allthese drum machines
to play around with.
Ram it Down. I dont know if we are going to
have a S/A/W offering by years end. Another
thing we realized is that the stuff made with
S/A/W could be a smash hit on the radio, but I
think the peoples response would be that we
only made this to make hit singles. But weve
got a lot more things to do than thinking about
a few hit singles in the charts. That could make
an irreversible damage to the band; weve got
to sort our priorities out.
Back to the world of metal, Ram it Downs
cover art was, on the surface, quite cool, but
ultimately unsatisfying. Priest were simply
giving us more juvenile illustration in primary
colors, the artiness of a Sad Wings, Sin After Sin
or Stained Class but a distant memory.
Ram it Down opened with the racing title
track, Halfords intro scream and the quick-to-
pounce riff so evidently trying to please the old
faction, but coming up bald and obvious in the
process. Stamped out like Screaming for
Vengeance or Freewheel Burning, this ones
effect is diminished because we know all the
tricks. The fact that, lyrically, its another tired
fist-pump to the gods of heavy metal doesnt
help matters, nor does the panicked drum
track, Holland giving you a sense that hes
operating at the edge of his capability, and it
aint enough. Still, the track is a harsh foil to
the flirtatious riffs of Turbo Priest was
gamely trying to rock harder than the young
bucks coming up. The stated plan was to make
a heavy record, and a base was established,
given that this track and Monsters of Rock
(the band, again, lapsing into formula, knew
they wanted a plodder on the record), were a
couple of the heavy carryovers from the
rejected half of the proposed double album
version of Turbo.
Of note, there was indeed a surfeit of songs
submitted to the label while considering
That could make an
irreversible damage to
the band; weve got to
sort our priorities out.
whether to make the album or not. In the end,
tracks like Red, White & Blue, Fire Burns
Below, Thunder Road (there was some
crossover between this pedestrian blue collar
rocker and Johnny B. Goode), and an epic
called My Design didnt make the cut. Others
were reworked, chopped and changed, and
then deemed acceptable. Ram it Down and
Monsters of Rock are widely accepted as
having been written during the Turbo sessions,
but Hard as Iron and Love You to Death are
thought to originate there as well.
Countered Glenn, years later, This is some-
thing thats one of those things people talk
about that isnt exactly true, where they say
Ram it Down was a leftovers album. Thats not
true. Whether there was one or two tracks . . .
maybe. But in actual fact, there were a lot of
tracks on Ram it Down that were written for
Ram it Down and not leftovers from Turbo.
Thats my recollection of it. But I have got the
worst memory in the world!
Things slow right down for Ram it Downs
second track, preambled by a very unmusical
intro by Glenn which recalls the jabs leveled at
Poisons C.C. Deville for his earsplitting cater-
wauls. Heavy Metal is actually a pretty
uplifting track, due to Halfords madman vocal
and madder melody. This is most definitely a
plodder, but not as plodding as album closer
Monsters of Rock. The mechanized drum
track is almost Mack-like in its Queen-ness,
this time all of these 80s tricks used to good
advantage. Still, a second song in a row about
heavy metal, by a band that wore the heavy
metal uniformby the rulebook and was one of
the few big bands to proudly call themselves
heavy metal . . . it was a bit much.
Love Zone also features an oddly appro-
priate hammering drum sound as
previously suggested, it is said that on parts of
the album, Holland is actually replaced by a
drum machine. Again, Halford is way up the
register, but mixed a bit back. This ones got a
bit of an innovative structure, and serves as a
nice bridge back to Turbo. Its heavy, but shafts
of melodic light peek through, especially come
pneumatic fingers and laser rays
its sturdy hair-band chorus. Come and Get it
is less of a success, though a more squarely
heavy metal song. Hard as Iron is a jack-
hammer of a speed metal highball, a preview of
things to come on Painkiller. Priests celebrated
ability to inject melody into fast technical
structures lives and breathes here. Robs vocal
is less histrionic and more palatable. Although
synth guitars were largely set aside for Ram it
Down, the guitars still sound oddly mechan-
ical, more so when buttressed by the obvious
drum trickery. Ian Hills signal was merely
another bit of processing deep inside an album
loaded up with technology.
Over to side two of the original vinyl, Priest
dealt their Turbo moment, Blood Red Skies
being a sort of moody, dark, at times balladic
rocker with measured use of dynamics and
spacing. Blood Red Skies will be a really
unique track, said Rob back in 88. It has all
the dark and light construction elements that
are all different characters of metal; peculiari-
ties that are in Victim of Changes. It begins in
a weird way, with some atmospheric drum
effects, and it tells a robot story with pneu-
matic fingers and laser rays. Its a metallic
fantasy, at which Priest are the best.
Im a Rocker didnt do the band any
favors, its chorus horrible, although the verse
melody is kind of fresh, and Robs autobio-
graphical lyric somewhat convincing when
delivered low and steady as it is. Next up was
the aforementioned Johnny B. Goode, which
really trots out the ol synth guitars, as well as
a Turbo Lover drum sound and that songs
brisk, mid-paced delivery. The chorus is just
too much for an old school Priest fan to take.
At least the band skipped out on the intro lick,
which K.K. had said they found too clich. The
song was changed radically from the Chuck
Berry boogie original, becoming a rote hair-
band anthem. The band filmed a video for it
in an Amsterdam club. In perhaps a metaphor
for this heavy yet annoyingly corporate album,
Priest retained the big hairdos from the Turbo
days, yet donned costumes that were a little
meaner, more black, less red. A second version
of the video was also cut, interspersing footage
from the crap teen movie it was made for. The
it tells a robot story with
pneumatic fingers and laser
rays. Its a metallic fantasy, at
which Priest are the best.
song was done before the rest of the album,
sort of on break time, as a favor to manager
Bill Curbishley, who had ties to the film busi-
ness and thought this would be a good idea.
Rob has said that there werent plans to put it
on the album, but then rationalized that rocks
roots are in 50s music, so eres an homage.
K.K. was to quip that the ruse did nothing for
the bands career.
Love You to Death comes next, the band
in a strange but somewhat novel funk metal
zone akin to commercial Scorpions or hair
metalera Alice Cooper. And then Ram it
Down closes with Monsters of Rock, easily
the worst dirge the band has ever written. The
rote story of heavy metal is set to an agoniz-
ingly slow but processed beat, riffs practically
nonexistent as K.K. and Glenn bang away at
big Spinal Tap chords whilst Rob does his best
scary Orson Welles oertop. The opening refer-
ence to the black country refers to the
birthplace of heavy metal, Birmingham, or
more accurately, an area just to the northwest
of Birmingham, turned black because of all the
metal industry in the area. Theres that metal,
and of course the fact that heavy metals origi-
nators Black Sabbath hail from Birmingham,
along with Priest. Amusingly, Rob has talked
about Birmingham being a leather work cap-
ital as well. Coming full circle, Sabbaths Geezer
Butler talks about having stage trousers fash-
ioned from old leather car seats recycled from
the plants in which family members worked.
pneumatic fingers and laser rays
Add to this the smell of the rubber factories,
and youve got Judas Priest live hitting you on
all the senses.
Its something in the air, muses Rob, about
his Brummie roots. In my last years of school I
had to walk past this metal foundry, and every
day I got a lung full of this molten metal smoke
and the shit that would coat your face. This was
when I was 13, 14, 15 years of age. That was
before I even discovered metal music. Ive
always wondered if that was part of the seed. I
mustve sucked in some molten metal at some
point, because from that point on, it was a cell
in my system thats never gone away. I used to
sit in class trying to study, and I could actually
hear the stamping of the metal foundry across
the street. The thud thud thud would actually
come through the windows, and thats kind of a
nice thing to think about in the whole story of
the life and times of a Metal God.
Fans pretty much considered Ram it Down
the pooch of the Priest catalog with Rob, but
Halford himself doesnt like to get drawn into
any sort of admissions thereof. Well, no, I
dont really think that questions important and
Ill tell you why. Because everything has its
place and everything is relevant, and when
youve been as lucky as I have to be a part of
something as great as Priest, its a chronological
history of ups and downs and ins and outs and
ripples and tides. You look at some of it and you
suck out through your teeth some time, but
thats OK, thats how it should be, thats real.
Thats the human aspect of it. So if youre
looking at the history of Priest or AC/DC or
Aerosmith or Iron Maiden, you look at it and
you say, Oh that was a great album, and that
was a bit dodgy and this one is fucking awe-
some. And so it should be; thats making it
human and real. I think if there was a situation
Moltram/RP/Retna Ltd
where you had . . . there isnt one, is there? Even
the Beatles, if you look at it you go, That record
was a bit weird. Thats what I love about what
we do. Its human and its got all the idiosyn-
crasies and the strangeness of life in the music
and its all relevant to your writing skills at that
particular point in time, or how good you were
feeling or how good you could play that day. All
these things are wonderful when theyre cap-
tured on tape and made into albums. Its all
important, its all useful, its all valuable.
Which brings us to the bands Ram it Down
campaign, dubbed the Mercenaries of Metal
tour. Making the rounds, Priest played half the
songs from the album, with Hard as Iron,
Love Zone, Love You to Death, Monsters
of Rock and Blood Red Skies left off the set
list, although the creeping intro to Blood Red
Skies was played through the PA before the
band tore into Electric Eye instead, with Rob
descending from a steel cage. Only Turbo
Lover survived from the preceding record.
The set played up Birminghams steel factory
ambience. There were metal stairs, railings and
cables, and all told, the effect was a tie-in to
Monsters of Rock, Heavy Metal and the
title track from the album at hand, this idea of
all metal, all the time, a sort of full-on capitu-
lation to the bands image.
In May and June of 88, Priest blanketed
Europe, with Cinderella as support, the British
dates in the second half of June being Priests
first there in four years. Cinderella followed the
band into Canada and America in July,
through to the end of the tour, October 23rd in
Portland, Oregon.
However, a month earlier in Reno, Nevada,
on September 30, the band were handed a sub-
poena to appear in court. The band and its
label had been sued for $6.2 million by the
families of two teenage boys who, nearly five
years earlier, had formed a suicide pact. The
boys had been Priest fans, and the suit claimed
that subliminal backmasked messages in
Better by You, Better than Me (ironically a
Spooky Tooth cover not written by the band)
had caused the tragic chain of events, where
one of the two had successfully committed sui-
cide, and the other had shot his jaw off and was
severely disfigured. Three years later, he too
was dead, froma methadone overdose, mistak-
enly administered.
The story went as follows. On December 23,
1985, drinking beer and smoking pot, one of
the boys had given the other his early
Christmas present, a copy of Stained Class.
After agreeing on their suicide pact, the boys
had wedged a two-by-four under the bedroom
door, trashed everything in the room but the
stereo (even attempting to destroy the walls),
then crawled out the window, taking a twelve-
gauge shotgun with them. In the courtyard of
a nearby church, one of the boys put the gun
under his chin and killed himself. With blood
pneumatic fingers and laser rays
everywhere and the gun quite slippery, the
second boy missed when the gun lurched, only
severely injuring himself.
The family would have preferred to sue over
the less outlandish claim that the actual front-
way round lyrics of songs like Heroes End
and Beyond the Realms of Death were
responsible for the tragedy, but these words
were protected under the First Amendment.
Instead, six teens were hired to interpret the
albums lyrics, a specialist (Rob said he was
actually a marine biologist, suggesting he
should be looking after Flipper) was hired to
find backmasked lyrics, and people came out
of the woodwork to find hidden meaning
behind the cover art of the album itself, with a
rumor being floated that the word suicide
could be seen on early pressings of the album,
but had been surreptitiously removed on later
At the suggestion of Tipton, the defense
took their own copy of Stained Class, played it
backward and found their own subliminal sug-
gestions, namely Hey ma, my chairs broken,
Help me keep a job, and Give me a pepper-
mint. Rob remembers the last one slightly
different, finding within Exciter, I asked her
for a peppermint / I asked her to get me one.
At any rate, the summons had to be served
in the state where the suit was brought, so here
was Priest, getting ready to hit the stage in
Nevada, being handed a summons. The whole
matter was seen as frivolous at the time, but it
would soon turn into the biggest trial of its sort
in history, essentially, heavy metal put on trial
pneumatic fingers and laser rays
for all the world to see, with Priest prevailing
after the grueling four-week trial. Deemed a
circus-like atmosphere, highlights included
one of the lawyers showing up in the deceaseds
suit, as well as members of the prosecution
team, during recesses, asking the band for
autographs for their kids.
Back on the tour trail, Cinderellas presence
was starkly contrasted by Priests other touring
partners, Slayer. Yes, we played with them in
88 on Ram it Down, affirms Slayer guitarist
Kerry King, calling it his first time getting to
know the guys. We bailed their tour out,
because the fucking geniuses that they were,
they thought that they could take out Cin-
derella and do some crossover gigs, and the
tour was just bombing. So we picked up the
last 13 shows [laughs], hoping they would take
us out on the next record they never did.
Priest was a big influence on Slayer, bigger than
Maiden, for sure. Actually, the first time I got
turned on to Maiden, they were opening for
Priest on the Point of Entry tour. And then I
thought Maiden kicked their teeth in, so I went
out and bought all the Iron Maiden records the
next day [laughs].
I didnt really have an outlet, says Kerry,
asked about the first time he had heard the
band. I didnt have friends that were into
metal, so it was pretty much just being on the
radio. Back then in L.A., there was KLOS and
KNET and they were both playing heavy rock.
So the first one I probably heard was Breaking
the Law or Living After Midnight, and I liked
that. And then you go and buy British Steel, and
its got Rapid Fire and Steeler on it, and its
like . . . wow! These are better than the songs
theyre playing on the radio, and then you go
do your homework Hell Bent for Leather,
Stained Class, Sad Wings and then you
become a knowledgeable fan.
We played with Priest again on 04s
Ozzfest, continues Kerry. In 88, I was such a
fan I couldnt even talk to them, but in 04, I
had gotten over it. Im still into them, but Ive
been around the world a hell of a lot of times
myself, so I would run into them at bars, and
then take Glenn and K.K. home drunk, have
my way with them [laughs].
pneumatic fingers and laser rays
(CBS, September 90)
Side 1
Hell Patrol
All Guns Blazing
Leather Rebel
Metal Meltdown
Side 2
Night Crawler
Between the Hammer & the Anvil
A Touch of Evil
Battle Hymn
One Shot at Glory
There you go
Through a flurry of alchemical hissing
and spitting, Priest emerged for the new
decade with a record that was sharp,
shocking, uncompromisingly heavy, but
formidably, ambitiously crafted at the
same time. Painkiller would be more like
the Ram it Down killer, graphically
making that record seem egregiously
phoned-in. From the cover art down
through the production, this ones new
drummer and tension-filled songs
making for a stinging rebuke of what
came before.
Painkillers cover art would be any perceptive
punters first indication that this time Priest
were serious. Mark Wilkinson, of Fish and Iron
Maiden fame, was brought back after his work
with the band for Ram it Down to bring to life a
concept created by the band itself. But this time,
the clarity and the color and the detail were as
vital as the music within. Priests talismanic
symbol was pictured amidst a demolished city,
while a metal figure on a motorcycle flew above
the ruins, fist raised in metal triumph. The
included missive this time out would declare,
As mankind hurled itself forever downwards
into the bottomless pit of eternal chaos, the
remnants of civilization screamed out for salva-
tion redemption roared across the burning
sky . . . the Painkiller!
Rob has said that the cover is essentially a
representation of the Sad Wings of Destiny
figure projected into the future, or more accu-
rately, in Robocop mode. He had wanted to
retain the wings, but add the bands celebrated
prop, the motorcycle. And then that too had to
get a futuristic makeover. Wilkinson came up
with the idea of the figure being machine and
the bike being animal matter essentially a
dragon with bikey bits added. Glenn joked that
as with many of the bands graphic characters,
you cant tell whether its designed as a force
for good or for evil, but you do know that you
dont want to upset it.
On the music front, two significant changes
would occur in the Priest camp, as the boys cir-
cled the wagons pointedly, ready to compete
with younger, heavier bands. Dave Holland, the
bands simple and dependable drummer would
have to go, as would the bands simple and
dependable producer, Tom Allom. In the first
instance, Holland would be replaced by a tech-
nical drum wizard by the name of Scott Travis.
Scott had arrived in the Priest camp from
the flashy and purposefully shredding Racer
X, who had recorded Heart of a Lion, a song
written by none other than Halford, Tipton
and Downing. To be honest, a lot of the time
we worked around Dave Hollands weak-
nesses, points out Tipton, on making the
change. I dont say that in a nasty way. Its
just . . . the double kick pedal of Priest has
always been a big part of our sound. So when
we got Scott in the band, we felt we were back
in gear, and that led to tracks like Painkiller
we were back on solid ground. Scott was
raised in Norfolk, Virginia, but had been
ensconced in L.A. for a while, before Racer X,
having gotten involved with Hawk, project
band of guitar instructor Doug Marks. Scott
had actually half-heartedly tried to join Priest
all the way back in 1982. He had approached
Glenn at the hotel they were staying at, asked
for an autograph and surreptitiously showed
Tipton a photo of his drum kit. But asking
Glenn how he liked playing with Dave Hol-
land seemed to backfire on him, and that was
the end of that.
Im an old Rush fan, says Scott, musing on
his old favorites and his relationship with
Priest before winding up in their midst, after
the band had auditioned three finalist drum-
mers in a converted sugar mill in Spain! But I
couldnt even tell you the names of their last
three albums, or any songs from them. But you
when we got Scott in the band,
we felt we were back in gear.
go back to early Rush that I liked, and of course
Zeppelin, theyre so cutting edge, they were
always creative. I dont know how you could
describe it. And Priest, the early stuff is so
amazing. Youre looking at the album cover
going, Man, these guys are really . . . and Ive
heard the stories now, all of them writing
together in a bread van, doing a freezing cold
tour around England, with of course no money
whatsoever, and having to sleep in the van with
the equipment, while one of the guys drove the
van, of course. Its just kind of neat when you
hear those old stories. And then theres the
story about K.K. brushing his teeth in the
snow. And its funny, he probably did that once
in his whole lifetime and it becomes a story.
But yes, Painkiller is a good record I listened
to it a few months ago when we were trying to
pick some songs. And I was saying, man, we
should do this, and we should do Hell Patrol
live it would just be a lot of fun to play. It
sounds great on the record.
Scott found himself impressed with how
the band could raise the ante so deep into their
career. Right, and thats the beauty of it. You
get a bunch of money and you get your big
there you go
houses and then you get your cars and your
boats and all that, and sometimes the creativity
just goes out the window, because youre
thinking about other things. I mean, Metallica
would probably be the prime example. Im sure
a lot of Metallica fans cant stand some of the
newer stuff they come up with.
In addition to Scott propelling the band,
virtually waking them up to new possibilities
seeded in his drumming, Priest acquired the
legendary Chris Tsangarides to produce their
bold statement for a new decade (recall also
that Chris played a minor role in the produc-
tion of Sad Wings of Destiny). Tsangarides had
recorded landmark albums for the likes of
Anvil, Thin Lizzy, Y&T and Tygers of Pan Tang
in the past, and now he had another venerable
80s metal legend to shake down. Part of the
decision also fell to the fact that Allom had
decided to dedicate his time to helping former
Judas Priest manager Mike Dolan get a record
label off the ground, something he quickly
regretted from a financial standpoint.
My sound is big, loud, heavy, and clear,says
Tsangarides. I like to think that every band I
work with, we get an individual sound for them,
but fundamentally we still hear me through it,
but not to the point of distracting from the
band. The whole point of everything is that the
production should be invisible. You should
hear the band and say, Shit, the band sounds
fucking great, and then you find out whats
gone on and whos done it, etc. Lips from Anvil
is a good example; he says to me, he knows
[when] Ive done something, because the gui-
tars have this roar to it [laughs]. There you go.
I guess Painkiller was a very pivotal album
for many, many people them, myself, and
the whole heavy metal genre in general, muses
Chris. Not that anyone knew at the time what
it would mean to a hell of a lot of fans, but still,
to this day, people ask me about it: How did
you record it; how did you get it like that?
Theres no trickery involved. What you do is
play. There are no computers, none of that,
because it wasnt around when we did it
[laughs]. They basically wrote an album that
was going to be as fast and as furious as could
be, and they had some terrific tunes and some
exceptional playing. And the whole key to it
was the fact that they used Scott Travis for the
first time, who is absolutely exceptional, and
could play the parts that were required, plus
changing over to people like myself who was
always a huge fan of the guys, and I had been
playing them since I was 17 years old. And
basically, a fan doing an album of one of your
favorite bands is a great combination, because
you want to make it like you want to hear it as
a fan, and it came out like that. Yeah, were very
proud of it.
No question Tsangarides sharpened the
blade. Ram it Down was the work of a tired
band desperate to beat their chests, but
a fan doing an album of one
of your favorite bands
is a great combination,
because you want to make
it like you want to hear it
as a fan, and it came
out like that.
sounding fatigued in the process, with Tom
Allom as producer not doing them any favors.
Indeed, the band had claimed it was time to
listen to the type of hard rock consumer who
wanted his metal fast and loud, maybe a little
more toward the style churned by new guard
rockers such as Sepultura, Anthrax, Megadeth
and Pantera. K.K. even mentioned the fear of
looking pretentious, Rob the fear of being seen
as boring old farts, positing that what
Painkiller would be is a mix of the current
thrash and speed styles with Priests time-hon-
ored penchant for good songs. For his part,
Tipton seemed to want to remind metalheads
that Priest had indeed invented this stuff.
I think they wanted to get away from the
machine quality that they used before, says
Chris, diplomatically, of previous Priest
albums. They tended to use guitars straight
into the set and machines on the drums and
stuff like that, and they wanted to get back to
the band situation where everyone could play
together. And thats kind of what we did,
because they managed to get a drummer like
Scott. They were looking for a bit of a change.
If you work with the same people for years and
years, and as successful as it might be, they
think, You know what? It might be just nice to
do something with someone else. I tend to
work with bands on a repeat basis, where I will
go back and work with them later in life; its
kind of a natural thing to do. But no, no argu-
ments or anything; they were very respectful of
each other. It was very good fun, that album,
although they did have that very nasty court
case looming up which put a bit of a downer
on it. But no arguments I recall, between any-
body. Which is fantastic.
Tsangarides is also old school in that he can
play as well as twiddle knobs. Hes passable on
both keyboards and guitar, and can write as
well. All of those things, yes. I can write the
damn thing from start to finish, if its
required. I have a hell of a lot to do with the
arrangement, and every aspect of the sound. I
engineer it myself, always. Completely, all-
encompassing, whatever is required. I mean, if
the band has a great song, and its a great
arrangement, Im not going to change it. If its
great, its great. There are always suggestions,
but Im not ever going to dictate to someone.
If its a good suggestion, it will fly. I listen to
whats going on, but I wont be a dictator.
Priest were quite prepared we had demos.
They were demos that Glenn had made, with
drum machines, because Scott wasnt with
there you go
them at the time when the songs were written.
So yeah, drum machines and a couple of gui-
tars and a basic vocal, and we started with that.
When I heard them, I said, Youre going to
find a drummer to play that fast?! Get the fuck
out of town! And he says, Oh well, weve got
one. And I said, Let me hear him, and to me,
Scott was amazing.
Scott indicates that Tsangarides wasnt the
least bit overbearing. No, I dont think so at
all. Any producer/engineer whatever you
want to call it they always know their
boundaries, and that working with the band is
a personal relationship. Its not just a hierarchy.
Even if the band chooses the high road, so to
speak, making demands . . . it cant be like that.
It has to be a mutual: Hey, lets all work
together to achieve the same goal. But no,
Chris is not a demanding person at all.
The album would be recorded in rural
France on the outskirts of Nice at Studio
Miraval, owned by famous French jazz pianist
Jacques Loussier, partly to escape the glare of
the trial back in Nevada, partly to get the
usual escape from distraction. Acts who have
used the facility include Pink Floyd, Sade,
Sting, the Cranberries and AC/DC. The
bands memories of their time there include
gambling at the local casino, lots of good wine
given the locale in wine country, and wild
boar attacks in the vineyard.
Painkiller, issued September 3, 1990, opens
with a flurry of drums that has become one of
the bands top-recorded drum performances.
After a lurching heave of guitar, a surgically
steely riff kicks in this would be Priests
heaviest song in years, maybe ever. Well, there
you go, laughs Hill, asked about the potency of
this landmark title track. Thats a progression
from Screaming for Vengeance, Freewheel
Burning, right up until we stopped there
[laughs]. That was the end of the line for the
big, fast aggressive songs, a great track. Up until
that point, it was the hardest thing we had ever
done. Robs performance was great, as it was on
the whole album. His voice came across very
powerful on Painkiller, much bigger; not that
it wasnt before, but there was more presence in
his voice.
Still, no question, it is Scott that shines on
this screeching album opener, his modern flash
indicating a sea change in this band of old
saws, a declaration that Priest would not go
quietly. And Halford is of like mind on the sub-
ject. Painkiller, for me, is as much a drum
album as it is like, a guitar album or a vocal
album. We made the drums a lead instrument
on this record. Without Scott, theres no way
Painkiller would have been as powerful or as
strong. He has the ability to make something
very, very exciting, and very explosive with the
way he interpreted the songs that we wrote.
Its always a difficult thing to do, con-
tinues Rob, with regard to losing Dave
Holland, considered for years by many fans to
be the bands weak link. Dave left the group
of his own choice at the end of the Ram it
Down tour. He was complaining about being
very physically burnt-out, really not feeling
that he was giving as much as we all give, you
know? You gotta give everything when you
make your music. And I think Dave would
probably be the first to admit that heavy
metal was, you know, important to him, but
maybe not as important as it is to someone
like me, who lives, breathes, drinks, sleeps,
eats heavy metal music. So he made a profes-
sional and a gentleman decision by leaving
the group. It doesnt matter to me that Scotts
an American. He could have been Swedish, he
could have been French, he could have been
from Holland. Its the quality of the work that
matters, and he was the best heavy metal
drummer we could find. Further prompting
Dave to pack it in were the death of his father,
and his sister taking seriously ill, not to men-
tion the stress of the ongoing subliminal
messages/suicide trial.
Ians right about Painkiller and its lineage.
The song is a direct descendant of the OTT or
over the top proto-speed metal classics Priest
routinely notched, thereby contributing to the
invention of the form. K.K. and Glenn carve it
up on guitars, proving their mastery at balancing
flash with songfulness, and Rob turns in a frantic
high-register vocal. Indeed, prior to the
Painkiller sessions, the band had put together a
chronological compilation of their 20 fastest
tracks, which became the inspiration for
Painkillers increased velocities. And it became
even more than that the guys had a title all
picked out, Fast and Furious, and were hell-bent
on actually putting the album out as a hits
package of speedy sorts, maybe even rerecording
the songs to bulk them up to mod standard.
Adding to the impact of Painkiller was the
songs jittery black-and-white video, Rob
looking crazed in eyeliner and five oclock
shadow, the band rocking to death all the metal
clichs as if their next decade depended on it.
Launching this track as a video (it debuted on
September 22, four days after the U.S. release of
there you go
Youre going to find a
drummer to play that fast?!
Get the fuck out of town!
the album) as a business concept was similar to
seeing the uncompromising Freewheel
Burning as calling card for Defenders of the
Faith three records earlier. Rob basically fig-
ured why not? There were no commercial
tracks on the record anyway, so lets hit em
between the eyes.
Lyrically, Painkiller wouldnt do much to
add to the intellectual discourse of the band.
Indeed, the lyrics on the album as a whole are
a bit of a garish, neon-colored letdown. Priest
was still locked in their metal cages hollering
away about anything that might be heavy to a
13 year old, in this case, a fantastic creature
that personifies metal, said Rob, some kind
of crusading metal mercenary. An unused
verse to the song shows up in the Painkiller
tour book, and things arent greatly improved
with this added fleshing out of a tale without
much meat.
Next up was another fully robust metal
rocker, Hell Patrol, galloping oertop a Scott
Travis double bass pattern with roots back to
arch adversaries Iron Maiden or others of a
New Wave of British Heavy Metal ilk. Theres
even a simple and syrupy Smith/Murray twin
lead to strike ones fancy, although this shortly
gets shunted aside for a more upscale and clas-
sical Tipton/Downing duel. Rob has called the
song one of unity, band and fan forming an
army of rock.
All Guns Blazing is even heavier, the band
turning in a spirited chug of a groove topped
with a simple but effective anthemic chorus.
Halfords newly angry and snarling and
screeching persona is very much in the house
for the albums third straight track, with
Tipton and Downing responding with the
albums most explosive bout of soloing.
Leather Rebel, which Rob positions as a
sequel of sorts to Hell Bent for Leather, was
another fast-picked, note-dense rocker framed
on Scotts double bass drum patter, while
Metal Meltdown did much the same, Halford
turning in huge, high vocals for miles on the
verse, a bit of a laughable lyric come chorus
time. Of note, Glenn remembers the solo break
to this song as one of the last things added to
the album, he and K.K. laying it down while
the record was being mixed next door. Tiptons
favorite Painkiller track, Night Crawler,
begins spooky, like a silly Ozzy Osbourne tune,
but then transforms into a slamming but
comfortable mid-paced chug again, Tsan-
garides has turned these axes molten.
Between the Hammer & the Anvil is yet
another outr metal song title on a record that
would be overstuffed with them to the point of
tongue in cheek if Priest was capable of that.
A hummable, melodic bit of a respite, this one
even features Tsangarides plinking a little
guitar. Rob has alluded to the song as being the
only one on the record that references the
bands legal troubles, with the hammer being
the gavel and the anvil standing in for society.
One of the albums key tracks comes next,
A Touch of Evil carrying within it a touch of
hair metal, which isnt surprising given that
1990 was pretty much the zenith of that poofy
movement, after a good seven years of the ven-
erable genre enjoying commercial dominance.
This is another of Halfords hot love affair
songs, and frankly, a bit of a duffer, especially
in relation to its status as Painkillers second
or even first most famous track, destined to
be in the set list for years to come.
Chris Tsangarides gets a writing credit on
this one. I had a tape of it, they heard it, and
they asked what it was, explains Tsangarides.
And I said its a tune Id done. And they said,
there you go
Do you mind if we sort of mess around with
it? And I said, No, carry on boys! [laughs].
Thats how it became A Touch of Evil. But it
had everything on it, although it was an instru-
mental track, no vocal at all. The riffs were
there, and Glenn came up with the chorus line,
the chorus itself, and the middle-eight section.
I also play some keyboards on it.
You actually hear Don Airey on that track
as well, continues Chris, citing the ex-jour-
neyman/current Deep Purple craftsman. He
played the keyboard parts. But essentially, the
guys wanted to make an album with him. They
had heard a band that I had worked with in
Minneapolis called Slave Raider. They had
heard the video on MTV and were very
impressed by the sound, especially from the
bass end. They had said, How on earth did you
get the bass like that? And I said, Well, I
double-tracked the bass with a Moog synthe-
sizer [laughs]. So Don played the bass part
again, on a synth. So youve got the synth bass
that makes it incredibly percussive, thus
working with a very fast kick drum. Further
technical games occur within the solo section,
which includes multi-tracked acoustic guitar
Adds Glenn, Don came along and he put
some backdrops on Painkiller, more effects
than anything else, because obviously its a
guitar-oriented album. But where we needed
dramatic backdrops or we wanted to create a
mood, for instance, Don came in and did his
bit. And always, even though its very subtle,
they became integral parts of the track. I dont
think Ive ever met a musician like Don Airey.
He can play almost anything you can ask him
to play. And he could play it sounding like the
original thing any classic song or keyboard
part. He just has an unbelievable memory, and
hes pretty much an unbelievable musician.
Yes, his table tennis playing; hes a great
table tennis player, quips K.K., asked about
Dons contribution to the process. Yeah, Don
is totally superb, hes brilliant, I love him. And
Ive got to hand it to him, hes played with
Whitesnake, Ozzy, and now hes in Deep
Purple. When we get together with him,
because were the same age, we just go back and
talk about musicians from the 60s; quite fun.
Adds Downing with respect to Tsangarides
approach to producing, Chris actually did a
bit of engineering on the second album we ever
did, Sad Wings of Destiny. Big metal fan, and a
big guitar fan. So when we hooked back up
with him for Painkiller, which was a tremen-
dous success for us, that was really super cool.
Chris was an expert with the old gear, if you
know what Im saying. When you had great big
48-, 60-channel, big mixing consoles that you
needed an aircraft hangar to get inside
[laughs]. He was a genius with all that stuff.
But I think now hes into ProTools as well. We
had a great time. We were down there in the
south of France to start with, and then we
moved up to Holland for a change of scenery.
But Chris, being a guitar player, he does pick
up the guitar and kind of jams along. And that
was the cool thing about Chris for me that
he was a guitar player.
Chris contribution to the album somewhat
filled a void, says Rob. We were going to put a
ballad on the album, but there really wasnt any
space for it. So the nearest thing we got was A
Touch of Evil, which really isnt a real ballad as
people expect. It isnt like Beyond the Realms
of Death or Before the Dawn or Night Comes
Down. Its a really intense backbeat of a solid
heavy metal riff. We wanted to make this
record very strong, very powerful, with no
space for slow, kind of cigarette lighters and
mirror ball songs; we didnt want to do that.
The video for A Touch of Evil, filmed at
S.I.R. in New York, was shot on the very same
day the aforementioned teen suicide trial was
winding up in Reno, with Priest vindicated.
Work on the album in general was held back by
trial business, recalling the recording of
another British classic, Sabotage, by Black Sab-
bath, captured in that albums twin epics The
Writ and Megalomania.
While Painkiller as a single (backed with
United) only rose to a #74 placement on the
U.K. singles charts, A Touch of Evil backed
with Night Crawler and fronted with
ghoulish, garish artwork, fared a little better at
#58. In the U.S., Between the Hammer & the
Anvilwas the songs b-side the pairing failed
to chart, and really, it is only through persistent
placement in the bands live set that the song
took on any sort of a reputation. In any event,
the album took a mere three months to acquire
gold status in the States, a bit of a thumbs-up
directed at the sharp and shocking new Priest,
and on the dark side, somewhat aided and
abetted by all the mainstream press with respect
to the trial that was flooding tv screens across
America. Of note with respect to past sales, in
the Painkiller press materials, cbs had said that
Priests 11 albums have sold some nine million
copies in North America alone.
Closing out Painkiller was a two-fer, an
inconsequential bit of Queen-like instrumental
there you go
We wanted to make this
record very strong,
very powerful,with no
space for slow, kind of
cigarette lighters and
mirror ball songs.
called Battle Hymn, giving way to One Shot at
Glory, an accessible rocker with a bit of Turbo
charm to it, truly an underrated gem of the
Priest catalog. Rob has indicated that this track
purposely ends the album on a positive note,
that after the mayhem of what comes before, our
hero rides off into the sunset, victorious.
All told, Painkiller was a hard slap in the face
to those who liked their Priest Turbo-style. And
indeed, as opinions solidified in the coming
years, both the band and fans would view the
record as the antidote to Turbos tastes, a bold
demonstration that Priest could be counted on
for variety and wild mood swings.
Asked whether calling the record Painkiller
played into the hands of those thinking Priest
were trying to capitalize on the unfortunate
court case, Rob says, We never used the pub-
licity to sell the record. I think if we would have
done that, Id be walking around in my three-
piece suit that I had to wear in court.
But then there were the advertising taglines,
The Antidote to Annihilation and Awesome!
Backwards or forwards. Yeah, absolutely,
mused Rob. That was the idea of the record
company. And . . . youre laughing, and thats
exactly what you should do! You should react
to it with a smile. Thats the way we intended it
to be. It was like getting that lawyer, who held
up Stained Class and said, I wonder how many
more people this has killed. You know, and
We defended heavy metal music!
We stood up in court and said,
Fuck you! Heavy metal is great!
slap him across the face and say, Well, get this!
You know, its great backwards or forwards!
With any kind of tragedy, and it was a tragedy
that two men lost their lives through drug
addiction and alcohol abuse and parents that
didnt love their kids, to . . . a situation where
you could at least smile about it and get on
with your life. Im not going to walk around
being depressed for the rest of my life because
of Reno. But at the same time, like I said earlier,
we didnt gain anything by the Reno situation.
We lost about a half a million dollars in legal
costs, that we had to pay for, and a lot of ter-
rible things were said about Judas Priest, about
heavy metal. We defended heavy metal music!
We stood up in court and said, Fuck you!
Heavy metal is great! People in court said
heavy metal is bad, its satanic, everybody that
listens to Judas Priest is mad, is crazy, is full of
drugs, hates the world, is anarchic. If some-
body said that to you, youd be pissed off, too.
Hitting the road after closing the court-
room, Rob emerged fully bald, deciding that
given he was losing his hair anyway, he may as
well go all the way. He also had said that his
designer metal phase was over with, meet the
new hardcore Rob. The new record featured
prominently in the Painkiller tour set list, with
Between the Hammer & the Anvil, Leather
Rebel, Painkiller, Metal Meltdown (with
drum solo adjunct), A Touch of Evil, All
Guns Blazing and Night Crawler making the
grade at one point or another. It was also nice
to see The Sentinel,Bloodstone,Riding on
the Wind and even Better by You, Better than
Me (a prominent track during the trial) pop-
ping up for a hello. Oddly Breaking the Law
and Living After Midnight were not always
part of the show, which was presented in two
different elaborate chrome-and-steel setups,
depending on venue size.
there you go
After introducing Scott Travis to Priest as a
live entity at a Foundations Forum gig on Sep-
tember 13, 1990, the band kicked the tour off
proper on October 18th at the Forum in metal-
mad Montreal. In Reno, Nevada, ground zero
for their legal battle, the band donated the pro-
ceeds of the gig to Community Runaway Youth
Services. In tow for the tour was a tough set of
modern metal extremists in Megadeth and Tes-
tament, again supporting this idea that Priest
wanted to compete in a heavier ring. January
23, 1991, found the band playing South
America for the first time, namely Rock in Rio
II, alongside Guns N Roses, Megadeth, Sepul-
tura, Queensryche and Faith No More. Oer to
Europe, and Priest brought along Pantera and
Annihilator, once more a couple of mid-sized
acts notably heavier, flashier and faster than
the masters they learned from.
Ima huge Priest fan, explains Megadeths
Marty Friedman, remembering the tour years
later. So of course when were touring with
Priest, Im plugging the members for all sorts
of trivia. So tell me about the recording of
Hot Rockin. You know what I mean? That
kind of detail. And they were more than happy
to share that stuff. Very friendly. I used to
hangout with K.K. and ask him those kinds of
things, and Im sure he answered them very
friendly. There was a very friendly kind of
camaraderie, Rob as well. At the time, they had
an American drummer, Scott, and hes younger
than the rest of the guys, and American, so I
saw him as . . . it must be kind of tough to
assimilate. Obviously onstage was no problem,
but he probably had a hard time. He seemed to
be alone a lot of the time. Which I can under-
stand. What do you talk about? The other guys
probably have grandkids and stuff. But thats a
pro for you. You gotta just jump in any situa-
tion and rock it out.
Asked about favorite Priest eras, Friedman
points out, I love Sin After Sin, and Stained
Class. I didnt really like the really early stuff,
because the sound was too primitive; I couldnt
get into that production, but the songs were
great, Tyrant and all that. Sin After Sin I just
love Dissident Aggressor, bitchin song.
Even their shitty albums like Point of Entry had
good stuff. I always stuck up for the Priest
when they tried to go commercial [laughs].
It was just truly an amazing honor to be a
part of that, remembers Pantera drummer
Vinnie Paul, with respect to their ride with the
Priest. Me and Dime, that was our one of our
favorite bands of all time. When we were kids
growing up, there were four bands that we
always dreamed of being able to play with, and
those were Kiss, Van Halen, Judas Priest and
Sabbath. We toured with every one of them,
but the first one was Judas Priest. And the way
that whole thing came about is we were actu-
ally playing on our first headline club tour, that
we did with Pantera in 1990, for Cowboys from
Hell. We were playing a place called Rock n
Roll Heaven in Toronto. Judas Priest happened
to be playing the next night, and Rob Halford
came down to our show, and he was just blown
away, man. He loved the vibe and he got up
and sang Metal Gods with us and the whole
crowd went crazy. There might have been a
whole 89 people there or some shit it was
right at the very beginning. And the next thing
you know, he personally asked us to be part of
the Painkiller tour over in Europe. So we did 58
dates with themall over Europe, and it was just
because he handpicked us. And every night, we
were like little kids at a concert. We would just
sit on the side of the stage and go, Can you
believe we just opened up for the greatest
fucking metal band in the world? Every night,
that was just a dream come true.
British Steel was incredible, but Screaming
for Vengeance had to be the highlight of it all for
me, adds Vinnie, looking at favorites from the
catalog. I thought that was the metal album to
just set the standard for all metal albums. The
sound was great on it and every song kicked ass.
Its one of those CDs that you put in and you
just dont wanna touch the CD player. Just let it
play, song after song after song . . .
Asked about his impression of the guys,
Vinnie recalls it was pretty surprising to me
that the band and Rob stayed very separate
from each other. And none of us really knew
why. I think the only time we ever saw them
together, besides onstage, was at the end of the
tour. They were having a dinner, and I
remember one of us said something, Hey, how
come we dont see you guys together more
often? And I just remember Rob saying, This is
business. And shortly thereafter they split up.
At the time, all we thought was, Judas Priest
all for one, one for all! We had no idea that
there were some internal issues there.
Explaining the Priest set list by the time the
band had hit Europe, Rob said that Painkiller
had provided four tracks. Yeah, we play All
Guns Blazing, Painkiller, Night Crawler and
A Touch of Evil. But, you know, when youre
playing just under two hours, and youve got
there you go
14 albums to choose from, like 150 songs,
where do we begin? What are we trying to do?
So, were trying to play songs that we know are
the classic cuts. If you play something from Sad
Wings of Destiny, people usually want Victim
of Changes or The Ripper, which we do. Or
from Stained Class we play the ballad Beyond
the Realms of Death, or from Defenders of the
Faith, The Sentinel. We tried to make a set that
had a flow, that had a lot of energy, that really
didnt drop too much, apart from Beyond the
Realms of Death, where we take a little bit of a
rest and then bring it back up again. Were just
trying to give something from everything that
weve done. But even so, we missed out the
Turbo and Ram it Down albums on this tour.
It didnt help us at all, said Rob when
asked whether the trial had brought the band
added publicity. We havent sold any more
albums. We havent made any more bigger
shows; we just carried on in our steady, confi-
dent kind of a way. Some people said that, you
know, with ten million dollars, with the free
publicity, wed be a much bigger band. We
never believed that! And its unfortunate now
that in America, people that didnt know about
Judas Priest, now they understand Judas Priest
as being the suicide band from England, and
thats a bad thing. But thats the way that the
media communicates in America. So it didnt
work that way at all. We just simply carried on
the same way. Weve just finished a three-
month tour of America that was as strong and
as powerful as the last three, four, five tours
that weve made.
Three shows in Alaska in April preceded a
slip across the Pacific to Japan, before the
fateful Operation Rock & Roll was to begin in
Salt Lake City in July. Operation Rock & Roll
was a metal package designed in honor of the
troops fighting in Operation Desert Storm in
the Middle East. Priest co-headlined with Alice
Cooper, supported by Motrhead, Metal
Church and Dangerous Toys. As publicity for
the package, Rob and Alice rumbled down
Sunset Strip one fine morning in a tank.
More than 30 dates had been logged when
the operation rolled into Toronto. Pre-show, in
a case of logistical miscommunication, Glenn
and Rob were ready to start the show, and dry
ice was billowing out in standard heavy metal
fashion. The stage had been set up in the
middle of a field, so the band not only had to
get to it via golf carts, but in this instance, from
separate sides. K.K., Ian and Scott had not
arrived onstage from the dressing rooms yet, so
the crew that was with them gave the signal to
lower the stairs in front of the drum riser and
start the opening sequence over again. Rob,
perched on his motorcycle underneath the
drum riser, never got that memo (he and Glenn
had arrived from the other side) and he popped
the clutch and proceeded to ride out onto the
stage. He caught the bottom rung of the ladder
square on the nose and was knocked backwards
off the bike onto the stage, where he lay uncon-
scious for approximately three minutes.
there you go
in America, people that didnt
know about Judas Priest, now
they understand Judas Priest
as being the suicide band from
England, and thats a bad thing.
Meanwhile the band had scrambled into
place and were playing Hell Bent for Leather.
Amidst the obfuscating dry ice, while Glenn
was musing that Robs mic must have cut out,
he stepped on something leathery and
studded, and discovered that it was in fact his
lead singer. The crew eventually located Rob
on the battlefield, patched up his nose and got
him in shape to finish the show, after which he
went straight to hospital, where he was treated
for a concussion.
As Rob would quip, not only was he
knocked off his motorcycle, he would be
knocked right out of the band, leaving in a
flurry of faxes and other forms of remote com-
munication and confusion, the odd phone call,
but mostly communiqus through lawyers.
I broke my nose and I never put it back,
recalls Rob with a laugh. So when I scratch my
nose, thats like my permanent memory. I just
bent the cartilage out of shape. Yes, it was
Spinal Tap. The first and only time that Hell
Bent for Leather was ever performed without
a singer.
That was as good a time as any for me,
says Rob when asked about leaving the Priest-
hood. I think that was the final nail in the
coffin. Being on tours and doing things you
think you shouldnt be involved with all play
on the psyche. You deal with it the best you
can. Sometimes people are banging heads
together. I guess good things come out of
those circumstances. It was a strange thing
that happened, because it was a very reac-
tionary, immediate kind of situation that I felt
about that whole show. When I went back to
the hotel, after spending three hours in the
hospital with X rays and all that kind of shit,
I did a lot of thinking. I went back to England
the next day and then to Phoenix. Actually
Im grateful to Toronto it knocked some
sense into me.
Said K.K., two years hence, We havent seen
him since August 91, when he had the accident
with the bike. I havent seen him since I came
offstage that gig. I went to the hospital to see if
he was still there after the show. He had already
left for the hotel, and the last conversation I had
was when I called him up to see if he was OK,
and he said he was fine and was just going to get
some sleep. That was the last time I saw him.
Continues Rob on his departure, Theres
two sides to every story, and you can choose
whatever side you will. I cant tie myself down
to thinking the way other people think I should.
Im as much of a free spirit as the next person,
and that was one of the issues I had with Priest.
I just wanted to break away from that kind of
condition. I just had the opportunity to go out
and do what I wanted to, and if that pisses
people off, too fuckin bad. I mean I cant live
my life worrying about what somebody else is
thinking about me. What the fuck is that all
about? I refuse to live in a kind of system. Its
just not me at all. I fuckin bit my lip, and my
tongue, so many times over the past.
there you go
I think that was the final nail
in the coffin. Being on tours
and doing things you think you
shouldnt be involved with all
play on the psyche.You deal
with it the best you can.
Jay Blakesberg
All of the above, as well as fatigue from the
Reno trial, and the running of Priest as the
huge business it had become, was weighing on
Rob to the point where toward the end, he
would wind up traveling on his own,
requesting different dressing rooms and even
different hotels from the rest of the guys.
I never really listened to them for years and
years, and then we did that tour with them,
says Lemmy from Motrhead, adding his two
cents on Priest and the doomed Operation
Rock & Roll tour. I listened to them a bit more
after that, and I got to know Glenn and K.K. and
Rob, and they seemed like good geezers. I mean,
they broke up after that tour, right? And then
they got back together, and Im glad to see it,
because I think they were all kind of swimming
upstream, while they were apart, I thought it
was a mess. Much better together. But yes, they
broke up more like a year after the tour was fin-
ished. I think it was understood that they were
going to break up when they were on the tour,
but they hadnt set a date for it, I dont think. A
lot of bitching going on, you know? Birm-
ingham bands seem to be good at that Black
Sabbath, Electric Light Orchestra . . .
When Rob left the band in 92, explained
K.K. in 1998, shortly after Rob came out of the
closet as a gay man, a lot of people asked us
why he left, expecting us to know. A lot of
people expect us to know why he left the band.
Well, I think any intelligent person, if they
thought about it, they wouldnt even bother
asking the question. They know. And now its
been confirmed. I dont have to say any more
than that, really. Its that simple. The fact that
anybody wants that license of freedom, to be
who they want to be, to surround themselves
with people they want to, after such a long
period of time, thats the answer. We can only
surmise. We never really got a reason why he
left. But his sexuality is of that persuasion, so
being surrounded in this heterosexual environ-
ment for so long, its kind of understandable.
He probably got to a certain age, 40 years of
age, which roughly he was, and said its time to
be with the people I want, who I feel more
comfortable with. Simple as that.
Asked whether the guys had spoken to him
at all at this point, Ian answered, No, and its
not for lack of trying either. When he first left
the band we all tried to contact him to, among
other things, ask him not to, to consider what
hes doing. But unfortunately, he had all his
calls routed through his manager and we had to
deal with him, so we stopped calling. No point.
Bidding adieu to Hill and Downing after this
post-gig chat, K.K. asked of me, Next time you
see Rob, kick him in the balls for me, will ya?
In a later chat, Hill characterized Halfords
exit as a creative decision, quite plausible, given
what eventually came out of Robs camp. It
was the summer of 1991 and we were on the
I just had the
opportunity to go out
and do what I wanted to,
and if that pisses
people off,
too fuckin bad.
Operation Rock & Roll tour, and we had been
on the road for a long time and we were all
feeling a bit jaded. We were ready for a bit of
time off and Rob wanted to continue. He came
to us and asked if we minded if he did a solo
album and we said, No, youve got plenty of
time to do that. For one reason or another he
was surrounded by psychopaths who were not
a worthy stock of people, and they talked him
into a solo career. It was a sad day but we have
all got over it now.
Theres some dispute between Rob and the
guys whether the request to do a solo album
morphed into the request to have four years off
to do a solo album. In any event, by the time
Rob had asked to come back, apparently in 93,
the band had all but said too late. Interest-
ingly, Scott Travis, who would join Rob on his
new venture, managed to finesse the matter to
the point where he was never seriously consid-
ered out of the Priest lineup. The hard feelings
would be between Rob and the guys, with Scott
making it known that he might be away during
the break but back when Priest refires, going
so far as to check in with the guys from time to
time to get their blessing and reiterate that hed
indeed show up for work when needed.
I think it was just a simple situation where
he really had some creative ideas that he really
wanted to get out, offers Travis, in agreement
with Ians assessment of Robs flight from
Priest. And they can him, knowing how the
band works. This isnt my take on it personally,
because I had just joined the band. But he
knew the band would do an album/tour and
then take 12 to 16 months off to write a new
record. And some of the guys had families,
some of the guys had other things personally
with their lives, homes and things like that, so
Rob probably saw the writing on the wall and
said, These guys are going to take 12, 14, 16
months off. That gave him time to implement
these ideas that he probably had for a long
time, in regard to wanting to do a solo record.
I was around for some of it, and Id say the lack
of communication would be the clear problem
to me. This is going back to 1992, so email was
not prevalent. There were literally faxes going
back and forth across the ocean. So things were
said that probably got out of hand, and things
just got worse from there. But youve heard
that a million times, the so-called lack of com-
munication, whether its in life or with
business partners . . . its so true.
there you go
Next time you see Rob,
kick him in the balls
for me,willya?
war of words
(Sony, September 93)
Into the Pit
Nailed to the Gun
Life in Black
Immortal Sin
War of Words
Laid to Rest
For All Eternity
Little Crazy
Kill It
Reality, a New Beginning
Jesus Saves (hidden track)
a small deadly space
(Sony, April 95)
I Am Alive
Legacy of Hate
Blowout in the Radio Room
Never Again
Small Deadly Space
Gretna Greene
Beneath the Violence
Human Crate
In a World of My Own Making
Psycho Suicide (hidden track)
If he tattoos this way, hes got
to be a killer bass player
Judas Priest was dead. At least it sure
looked that way. Sure, eventually the
band would emerge with a new singer,
and then a new album way up into 1997,
called Jugulator. But in the meantime,
once the smoke had cleared from Opera-
tion Rock & Rolls final detonations,
Priest was reeling.
Its tough dealing with the loss of a lead
singer, especially one as central as the Metal
God. Iron Maidens been down this road, as has
Van Halen, Bad Company and Journey, but
frankly, Priest took it as hard or harder than
could be expected, limping through the 90s
wracked with indecision and inaction, causing
all manner of consternation with a fan base
that wanted something, anything, to happen. It
was a time of rumor: Have they retired? Will
they get Rob back? Will their new singer be
D.C. Cooper or will it be Ralf Scheepers?
Meanwhile, as Priest listed (and delisted,
and short-listed), Rob would be moving on
and moving modern, at the same time and in
much the same manner as doppelgnger Bruce
Dickinson. The Air Raid Siren, having had
more than enough of more of the same with
Maiden (Fear of the Dark . . . lets be honest, its
even less of the same), would go solo with Balls
to Picasso. The Metal God . . . well, his last
album was a corker, a shot on the rocks, a bit of
steely determination raging against the dying
of the light. Still, Painkiller was juvenile,
trapped in primary-colored metal imagery . . .
frankly, a bit thick. One might conjecture that
Rob was viewing the Priest thing, despite the
shock rocket up the rear end on the musical
backside of things, as a bit old and dowdy,
unbecoming of a mature writer.
To his considerable credit, Rob would pro-
ceed to spend a goodly amount of time and
effort writing lyrics for grown-ups, perhaps for
the first time since, ironically, his first half
dozen albums with Priest.
So, not a year after his dismissal of (not
from) Judas Priest, Halford had a new full-
When I found out he was a
musician . . . if he tattoos
this way, hes got to be a
killer bass player.
length record under his belt, War of Words. The
name of the band was Fight, consisting of Rob,
guitarists Russ Parrish and Brian Tilse, bassist
John Jay Jay Brown (Robs erstwhile tattoo
artist!) and, further hobbling Priest, Scott
Travis on drums.
I feel just great, offered Jay Jay, on the
press trail back in 93. Its amazing working
with Rob. Looking back, I first met him up in
Toledo, Ohio, during the Turbo tour, when
this chick was laying out in front of their bus
and wouldnt let them leave, to now moving
down here with my old band and then
meeting Rob. Its just a godsend. Ive been
playing with the Metal God. I do a lot of his
body work. Ive done this piece on his legs, the
alien holding Rob. I did Predator, and Ive
done some other work on his arms. It was
really weird working with him that way and
hooking up with him to be in the band. It
worked out really well.
Quipped Rob during the same interview,
When I found out he was a musician . . . if he
tattoos this way, hes got to be a killer bass
player. Brian was playing with Jay and they
just explode. I mean these guys are all over the
place like a rash, jumping off the tables and
swinging off lights. I said, Fuck, these guys
are going someplace. That was before any-
thing solid came about. The band officially
formed on July 4, 1992, which I thought was
cool, as its Independence Day down here. It
was all coming together, but I thought it was
nice to say that day. Its like a big birthday for
America, and its Fights birthday. I still count
myself as an Englishman, and I always will be,
if he tattoos this way, hes got to be
a killer bass player
but I choose to live in America for certain rea-
sons. From a cultural sense, I think America is
the place to be and to work in this profession.
Its tremendously invigorating and inspiring.
Its just a great place to be. I consider it as
home when I go away now, I cant wait to
get back.
Id like to see the first gold and platinum
albums to go up on these walls, continued
Rob. There isnt any formula in this business;
theres no successful, calculable thing in a band
that makes things work. All you can do is try
and understand that its just about being who
you are, making the best possible music,
hoping that it works and that people get into it.
This is Fight; this band is not pretentious. It is
just playing from the guts. I think that its
about having a completely open mind. Theres
no walls or barriers; youre able to interact,
develop an understanding of all the ways you
can go. For this first Fight record, all the songs
were written by myself, simply because it was
important to try and let people appreciate how
diverse and eclectic the band can be. Its not
just a full force thrash thing. Its about under-
standing theres a tremendous amount of
movement available.
Looking back a decade later Rob mused, Its
amazing how that band, for the short tenure
that it had, did create such a terrific impact,
especially the War of Words release. Theres just
something very pure and raw about that release
that hit a lot of people. And it did extremely
well here in the States. The album in fact got
up to about 225,000 copies sold in the U.S.,
with manager John Baxter rounding to 400,000
with respect to worldwide figures.
Indeed War of Words has a proud, com-
bative, fresh sensibility to it, the effect
reinforced by the scrappy black-and-white
cover art. Not as extreme as something from
Pantera, it nonetheless possesses that bands
fire, crossed, say, with the traditional song
sense of Painkiller, not to mention a bit of
modern Sabbath and grunge in the down-
tuning of the guitars and rumbling density of
the riffs. Halford produced the album himself
(coproducer and engineer credit goes to Attie
Bauw, engineer on Painkiller) and the album
was recorded in the Netherlands. The sound
achieved is trebly, immediate, perhaps thin and
mechanical with respect to drums, but huge in
the guitar department.
Nailed to the Gun was the albums most
promoted track. A chugging, heavy, but ulti-
mately groovy and simple anthem for those
who prefer their Metal Gods a little more hard-
core, this one is about paranoia and the
resulting gun violence plaguing American cities.
Little Crazy, a lament about being a puppet
on a string, about events being out of ones
control, was also promoted as a single, even
though its ultimately quite unattractive, given
its lethargic, down-tuned, not all that melodic
forward mass. Both tracks got video treatment,
as did Immortal Sin, another somewhat
leaden and frumpy straight-line rocker, this one
housing a lyric against prejudice.
The song itself talks about the way certain
types of relationships, particularly interracial
relationships, are viewed by some religious
extremists, explained Rob. Thats why its
called Immortal Sin. Its just a perception on
those relationships by outsiders. Some of
these fundamentalists use the Bible as a
if he tattoos this way, hes got to be
a killer bass player
weapon of aggression instead of [as] a book
of love. Potentially inflaming religious sensi-
bilities even more, War of Words contained a
hidden bonus track called Jesus Saves, in
which Jesus actually saves Satan. Interestingly,
in discussing the track, Rob calls himself a
Christian man.
Commenting on the Immortal Sin video,
Rob recalls that we shot it in this old ware-
house in downtown Chicago freezing,
freezing cold, well below zero, because when
we perform, you can see the steam pouring
out of our mouths. We shot from around one
in the afternoon until three the following
morning, and then we drove overnight to the
next venue. We used performance footage for
the band, and intercut it with some pieces
taken that represent aspects of growing up:
one of being in a kindergarten setup, with
children around four to six years of age; then
we cut to a high school setup, 15, 16 years old.
Then we include footage of different types of
environments rich people, poor people,
different portions of the city. Its quite a visual
If youre able to reach
other people with your
art,your creativity,
you should consider
yourself quite lucky.
statement that the band is making this time. I
hope it gives people a different take on the
bands potential.
Fight indeed would become Halfords first
vehicle for elevating his level of discourse lyri-
cally. It seems it wasnt only Priests maturing
fans that were getting tired of chrome-plated
goblins running around being metal. As Rob
explained back in 93, For me, without getting
too intellectual, its about really having some-
thing important to say. Its important on a
psychological level to really have something
valuable to contribute. I think all artists, if
theyre honest, do that. Its a very kind of selfish
thing youre doing this to get off on what
you do. If youre able to reach other people
with your art, your creativity, you should con-
sider yourself quite lucky. It is very important
to me. Id like to think that we have something
special and unique, and it will make a large
contribution to this style of music.
Im not muzzled anymore, continues
Rob. Im able to say what I think about issues
people want to hear about. Thats been diffi-
cult for me in the past. I always wanted to
communicate like that lyrically, but with
Priest, that never happened. Every single
person has something to say about the state of
government, state of ecology, state of educa-
tion, state of medicine, state of hunger. If you
dont, youre a pretty fucking cold bastard in
this world. Its an important part of society to
have feelings and to be able to talk about these
subjects. More than ever now, bands are doing
it. It all comes down to the basic human
requirements. When I sit down and write
music now, its a great feeling. There are no
reins holding me back. I was in one band that
had a specific way of writing music and saying
things, and now Im in another band that has
absolutely no restrictions. Its about things I
want to talk about. Thats a real good feeling
for me, no matter how unpleasant and dis-
tasteful it may be.
Halford was also frustrated about Priest
putting the brakes on his modern sensibilities.
I dont think they ever understood what I was
trying to do. I think they always thought I was
trying to play Simon Says, because Ive always
wanted to be with whats happening now. And
Ive always loved the company of things that
are happening at this moment. If I started dig-
ging this band or that band, or started hanging
out with this band or the other band, thered be
this kind of, What are you doing that for? This
is where you should be. This is what you
should be doing. I lived with that for quite a
long time. That was becoming increasingly
frustrating for me, having to compromise my
musical integrity. In certain bands like Priest,
if he tattoos this way, hes got to be
a killer bass player
Every single person has
something to say about the
state of government, state of
ecology, state of education,
state of medicine, state of
hunger. If you dont,youre
a pretty fucking cold
bastard in this world.
thats what you have to do. You had to be pre-
pared to offer something and have 20 percent
accepted and 80 percent rejected. Thats not a
very nice thing to have to live through.
He shouldve spoken up! said an exasper-
ated Downing on whether Rob might have
been dissatisfied with the music he was making
with Priest. He should have said that at the
time, because, when we were sitting down
writing and recording Painkiller, he was very
involved. He thought it was the bees knees,
that it was wonderful. He never said otherwise.
If anybody watches the Painkiller video, it
aint gonna get no heavier and meaner than
that. I dont think Rob will ever look more
aggressive or heavier than he does in that
video, and I dont think hell come up with
music thats more intense. Unless he sings
about killing the world and tearing everybodys
eyes out. If you call that being more heavy and
aggressive, then fine, but its not my cup of tea.
After Rob said he wanted to do his solo
thing, he went ahead and did a lot more than
that,continues K.K. He decided he didnt want
our present management company, whove
been managing us for 11 years. He didnt want
any of those people involved in his new project
and that really put the whole band in a stren-
uous situation. It just went on farther than that.
He couldnt get what he wanted from the record
company, so he didnt want those guys involved
anymore. He just went about to set himself up
totally independent of anybody and everybody
whos been with us for the past god knows how
long. In a sense, hes out there on his own. He
doesnt like us anymore for some reason! To
start with, Rob was very happy with Columbia.
He thought that they were wonderful. But
apparently he went in and played the songs for
the heads of Columbia, and they said, We dont
like the songs. I suppose that this pissed him off
to start with, and its just gone on from there. We
were starting to get a little bit fed up, especially
when the three-to-four-year statement came
over by fax. When he announced that he had to
leave the band in order to secure his record deal,
that was the point where I thought this was a
load of bullshit, and so did the rest of the world,
as far as I know.
With Halford on the move, and Priest
frozen in its tracks, Columbia figured theyd
keep the flame alive with a monster Priest
retrospective. Metal Works 7393 was issued
on April 23, 1993, preceding the release of War
of Words by five months. The set was com-
prised of two discs and 32 tracks, only one
composition of which was culled from the
bands first two albums (and then, in live ver-
sion), which Priest nemesis Gull Records still
owned and do to this day. A video version was
also issued, while Mark Wilkinsons cover art
for Metal Works was an amusing collage
drawing on elements from past Priest covers.
K.K. intimates that this Metal Works and
Fight jumble could potentially have experi-
enced some synergy, but its been one insult
all the way down the line. We Glenn, Ian
and myself took a back seat, just to see what
was going to happen next, really. We actually
condoned the idea; he had our blessing to set
up his own solo project. As you know, we
toured very hard for the Painkiller album, and
prior to that we went through the court case, so
we thought wed take a small sabbatical in 92.
We actually did intend to do the Metal Works
project, so Rob said, Hey, it could be a good
time to do this solo thing. I actually thought
that if his solo project and Metal Works were
released at the same time, who knows? Maybe
it would have promoted each other, as it were.
Obviously Rob hasnt come up with the
product and we have, so that isnt the case.
Back in Fight club, visually, Halford was
going for a bit of a street punk, almost hip-hop
look. As K.K. put it, Rob likes to wear silly
clothes now with a baseball hat turned back-
wards. More accurately, his T-shirt, tattoos,
and shorts and army boots garb mirrored that
of Pantera, who were the spark of this direction
in general. Rob had dug that bands major label
breakthrough album Cowboys from Hell, which
prompted Priest to use Pantera as support on
their European tour. As explained by Vinnie,
Robs first impression was forged in Toronto,
when he had switched on MuchMusic,
Canadas version of MTV, and saw Dimebag
Darrell in a British Steel shirt being inter-
viewed, followed by a video from the Pantera
album. Rob skipped down to the basement
pub Pantera were playing at, Rock n Roll
Heaven, and jammed Metal Gods with the
rocketing upstarts. A lifetime of experience
later, after the European tour and the demise of
Priest, Rob joined the Texans onstage in Cali-
fornia in March of 92 for a round of Priest
classics, also recording a studio track with
them called Light Comes out of Black, issued
on a soundtrack album in July of that year.
Explains Halford, Yes, that was on the Buffy
the Vampire Slayer movie soundtrack. At that
if he tattoos this way, hes got to be
a killer bass player
In a sense, hes out there on
his own. He doesnt like us
anymore for some reason!
time I was with a different label, and they
approached me when they were making the
soundtrack, to write a song specifically for that
film, and I had never done that before so it was
an exciting challenge to kind of think about a
song that had a vampiresque dark gothic atmos-
phere. But at the same time, carry a message,
and the message is that sometimes light comes
out of black. That just reflects on my person-
ality. Ive always been very optimistic, that you
grow from moments of conflict and struggle.
These are the great things of life that are part of
living. So that is a strong song and carries that
kind of optimistic, constructive message.
Light Comes out of Black was in the set
list for the European and U.S. tour Fight
embarked upon for War of Words, as was pretty
much the entire album itself, plus Priests
Green Manalishi, Bloodstone, Freewheel
Burning, as well as Black Sabbaths Symptom
of the Universe and Sweet Leaf. In Europe,
support came from postDeath Angel act The
Organization. In America, U.K. doomsters
Cathedral got the nod, after getting kicked off
the Mercyful Fate tour for making disparaging
comments toward King Diamond. On playing
Priest tunes, Rob quickly affirmed at the time,
Yeah, well play em. I wrote all of them with
Ken and Glenn. This band will play some of
those songs very, very well, but we may chop
them up a bit, de-tune them, slow them down,
grind em and mash em around.
On January 14th of 94, Fight did some
more mashing, issuing the Mutations EP, con-
sisting of four live tracks (including Priests
Freewheel Burning) and five remixes.
Atties doing them, noted Rob, as the disc
was in progress. [Producer Attie Baux is]
doing all the remixes. Im not personally
involved in any of them, apart from the stuff
that he sends over. He has all of the tapes and
we talk about the direction. And we have long
conversations over the phone, from his house
in Amsterdam, to wherever I may be on the
road or back home in Phoenix. We just share
input and possibilities and he just sends over
four or five versions of each song. Its a really
unusual way of doing it. He deserves all the
credit. There isnt any legitimate way for me to
get over to any given studio while were on the
road and put these together.
Later that year, Rob joined Geezer Butler,
Bill Ward, and Wino from The Obsessed for a
cover of Black Sabbaths The Wizard, issued
on the well-received Nativity in Black tribute
album, to be followed up with a promo-only
Fight Christmas single called Christmas
Ride, a fully fleshed-out, all original
Christmas tune the band wrote and recorded
in two days.
if he tattoos this way, hes got to be
a killer bass player
With respect to the Sabbath trip, Rob
recalls, While we were writing the material for
the new record, we just took an afternoon off,
and me and Brian Tilse jumped into a studio
here in Phoenix and put it together really
quickly. Nobody was there. We just had the
tape sent over. It took me about 30 minutes to
get the vocals done and it took Brian maybe an
hour to do the guitar. And then we went back
into the other room and carried on writing the
stuff for the new album.
The tribute track was actually a capper to
what was a semi-serious period in which Rob
was considered as the new singer for Black Sab-
bath. It seemed that things were not going so
well with Ronnie James Dio and the rest of the
Sabs as they toured their reunion album, Dehu-
manizer. Things came to a head at a festival in
Costa Mesa, where Dio and the boys were sup-
posed to play, followed by a short headlining set
featuring Ozzy with the guys sans Ronnie of
course. Ronnie saw this as transparent pretext
to put the original Sabbath lineup back
together, and jumped ship. Halford stepped in
and performed as lead vocalist for Black Sab-
bath in November of 92, with eyebrows up all
round as to the aptness of the match at hand.
In any event, it was not to be, and Fight
would live on. In February of 94, Fight hit
Australia, Japan and Brazil before backing up
Anthrax for another shot at North America,
already extensively blanketed in late 93. Into
the summer, the band did a dozen or so mostly
weekend dates with Metallica, Suicidal Ten-
dencies and Candlebox on a jaunt called the
Summer Shit Tour. After having jammed
Rapid Fire with Anthrax earlier in the year,
Rob wound up doing the same with Metallica.
On April 14, 1995, Fight was back with an all-
new album called A Small Deadly Space, lineup
intact save for Russ Parrishs short-lived replace-
ment Robbie Lochner having been replaced by
Minneapolis native Mark Chaussee. Destined to
sell only a fraction of the bands debut figures
(Soundscans in America totaled 67,253), it is
arguably a superior album, more complex,
robust, better recorded, more thoughtful.
Ive always been a firm believer in trying to
get the strength of the melody in any work that
Ive been part of creating, explained Rob. I
agree 100 percent that War of Words certainly
has a more stripped-down, hardcore approach
as opposed to the more contemporary, and
maybe even more sophisticated quality of this
record. It took place mostly here in Phoenix in
rehearsal rooms. We were just all in the same
place together, jamming away and recording
everything that we did and putting the meat on
the skeleton as far as we could, and then we
recorded in Amsterdam.
Its just a great feeling for the first time to
have the chance to play music that weve
written together as a complete unit, because all
of the War of Words material came from
myself, so it wasnt a true representation of
what Fight could be. Here we are now with a
bunch of songs written by the whole band. I
think weve probably got more of an identity
now. Theres definitely a major change in the
overall presentation of the band. You can tell
on this record how the band has grown and
developed in the last couple of years. We
started writing it last April or May. We came
right off the road and started work. It just felt
like the right thing to do rather than experi-
ence some dead time. We were all just very
pumped from the whole experience of the first
release and world tour. We were just raring to
go. I think we had a ten-day break it literally
has been nonstop for me since the end of 91.
if he tattoos this way, hes got to be
a killer bass player
Maybe Im turning into some kind of
Lennon-esque activist, mused Rob, surveying
the albums weighty themes. But were all vic-
tims of violence, to some extent, even though
we might not be actively physically involved.
Its all about balance, trying to make a percep-
tion as an artist. Generally, most artists look at
extreme conditions that surround us. A lot of
the references on this record talk about
domestic violence, or looking at bigotry and
prejudice against people with HIV and trying to
escape the violence with the direct reference
beneath the violence. And yet, you get a kind of
poignant glimmer of hope at the end with the
song In a World of My Own Making. I dont
want to feel as though Im trying to write
myself into this pained Generation X environ-
ment, but the fact remains that these kinds of
conditions have been prevalent through
humankind, right from day one. I dont feel
like Im the tortured artist, but I think its just
one of the most introspective pieces of lyric
Ive worked on for a long, long time.
One of the albums most impressive and
Pantera-esque sequence of riffs is featured on
Legacy of Hate, which Halford says depicts
a moment where this boy is trying to reach
his father. Hes gone into adulthood, and hes
suddenly seeing that the possible reason why
he was the victim of such treatment was
because his father was also part of this chain of
events, which is a pretty realistic portrayal,
The nondescript and somewhat squared-off
Never Again could have fit on War of Words,
if not for its Holocaust lyric. It was an abomi-
nation against humankind and should never
be forgotten, says Rob of the Final Solution.
It should constantly be part of the school
curriculum. Its an extremely hard-hitting fast
lesson to let people see how, when society is
weak and looking for a way out of a difficult
situation, they reach for something in the form
of rhetoric that promises them this, that and
the other thing. Its just disguised fascism. And
that exists in todays world. Were seeing it
right now in Bosnia and other places. Although
there isnt a direct reference to the Holocaust,
its a metaphor, and that statement never
again is from that terrible part of history.
Its about a couple that are homeless, says
Rob, about Human Crate. They dont want
to get married because they dont feel that is
relevant or important to them. But they need
each other, and they have this love for each
other. I see it every day when Im driving
around Phoenix. People are just trying to exist
to get food and a cheap motel for the family for
the night.
A Small Deadly Space coughed up one video
track, Blowout in the Radio Room being a bit
of a languid stoner rocker, its title curiously
akin to AC/DCs Blow up Your Video. The song
served as a metaphor for what was a groovy,
sophisticated album with above-par vocal
melodies and axe-sourced textures. As stated
earlier, one significant difference from the
debut was that the band wrote as a team,
resulting in an album that was freer, and also
more Pantera-esque and grungy at once, with
guitars that are egregiously molten and electro-
fried. Rob is darker, growling more, screaming
harrowingly (and sometimes electronically
processed) from a deep pit of guitars, and in
essence, turns in a fresh, brave performance in
construction of an album that is still today
gaining converts among Priest fans.
The proposed world tour for A Small
Deadly Space was knocked on its head after a
month and a half of North American summer
dates, as neither ticket nor record sales materi-
alized. Rob did some grousing about the labels
commitment to the band, but gamely started
writing for a third Fight album material that
would never be presented to the band.
if he tattoos this way, hes got to be
a killer bass player
(Steamhammer/SPV, October 97)
Blood Stained
Dead Meat
Death Row
Burn in Hell
Brain Dead
Bullet Train
Cathedral Spires
Painkillertimes two
Disbelief really. When we first saw the
videotape, the first thing that Glenn
said was, This guy has got to be
miming! We had Scott call him up and
ask him if he was. A couple of days later,
he was over there rehearsing. It all hap-
pened in four days.
So says Ian Hill, with respect to the mighty
mouth who would finally, after years of false
starts and frankly, idle talk be announced
as Judas Priests new lead singer, one Tim
Ripper Owens from middle-America Ohio.
As mentioned earlier, two of those touted
for the job and apparently in the final four
of about a thousand had been Royal
Hunts D.C. Cooper and Gamma Rays Ralf
Scheepers. I had prepared myself for the job as
vocalist for Judas Priest, affirms Ralf, because
I was one of the guys who was on the shortlist,
so I prepared myself for two and a half years.
Then the rejection letter came that said they
found the new singer, which was a big disap-
pointment for me, so I felt a little bit in the
hole actually.
Tim Lachman, brother of Halford guitarist
Pat Lachman, was also up for consideration,
having even met with the band and assured
that he was one of a couple of dudes Priest
were considering. Other names floated had
been Anthony OHara, later of Praying Mantis;
Shys Tony Mills, now with TNT; and Jeff
Martin, aided by his Racer X connection to the
band. Strapping Young Lads Devin Townsend
had been offered an audition, but he turned it
down due to the age gap, the fact that his guitar
skills wouldnt be required and, well, the fool-
ishness of the whole idea. Sebastian Bach was
asked to audition as well, but his manager at
the time, Doc McGee, put the brakes on the
possibility without even asking Baz. Months
later Bach would be out of Skid Row.
Pre-Priest, Tim Owens, winner of the gig,
yet not even around in the touted final four,
was best known for the Heart of a Killer album
he constructed with Winters Bane. Simulta-
neous to that band, he had played in a Priest
cover band called British Steel (and also
Brainicide, and Damage Inc.), the level of irony
from that moment on,
K.K. and Glenn kept calling me
Ripper. It was just a nickname.
But were going to put it out
there and see if it sticks.
Leah Burlington
so heavy that a movie, Rock Star, was loosely
based on his surreal rise. There was even a spell
where Winters Bane had been opening for the
cover band.
The Ripper is just a name that they gave
me, offered Tim, by way of introduction, in
the summer of 1996. When I auditioned, I
sang Victim of Changes and The Ripper, and
from that moment on, K.K. and Glenn kept
calling me Ripper. It was just a nickname. But
were going to put it out there and see if it
sticks. Its cool and Ill take it. My parents even
call me that now!
Charting past to present, Ripper added that
I got in a Judas Priest tribute band, because as
an original band, we couldnt play fuckin any-
where. We couldnt make any money. It was
obvious to cover Priest. Theyre my idols and I
love them to death. I am the psychotic fan! My
Theyre my idols and
I love them to death.
I am the psychotic fan!
first goal now is to put some awesome material
out. The music thats been done so far is pretty
damn heavy. I would say its Painkiller times
two; theyve progressed more. I havent added
much writing yet. Ill have a lot of work to do
with the melodies. Glenn wants to give me free
rein when it comes to that. Were really looking
forward to writing together on the next album.
But these guys are the most amazing guys you
want to meet. Theyre just so nice and down-
to-earth. Ive had so much fun being around
them. When I first met them, they seemed so
much younger than what I expected. Its their
dedication; thats why theyve been so suc-
cessful. They look at everything and they really
go at it. With a gleam in their eye and theyre
fucking ready.
A lot of people are going to hate me and
will be ready to criticize me, continued Tim,
with the headbanging understatement of the
late 90s. All they have to do is listen. It prob-
ably sounds more like Priest now than if
Halford was in the band. Hes just done an
industrial album! Halford wanted to leave
Priest to do his own thing and to this day, I still
want to meet the man and thank him for giving
me this opportunity. I dont understand what
hes doing. Now hes going to join Tony Iommi.
Mick Hutson/Redferns
I wish him the best and Im thankful where I
am. War of Words was good. I was surprised
what happened after that. I just bring young
blood, just like Scott Travis did when he came
in for Painkiller. Im definitely under more
pressure than Scott. Scott was a much different
drummer than Dave Holland was. Halfords
always been looked up to as one of the most tal-
ented singers in that type [of] music ever. Now
K.K., Glenn and Ian are putting pressure on me
and building me up. Whats funny is that Im
ready to take the task. I know I can do it. Its
been such an easy thing to deal with. The guy
was my favorite singer. I dont know how Ill fill
his shoes. Im not sure what size of shoes he
wears! I probably have smaller feet than him.
Halfords just waiting to see who replaced him.
I know if I was standing in an audience and saw
me singing, Id be happy.
The lead-up to getting Tim involved
included literally years of wildfire rumor and
conjecture. Every once in a while a story
would surface of this guy or that guy catching
Priests eye at some gig, or through a tape, or
even an audition.
There were a whole bunch of people, says
Tim. We dont want to get into any names.
There were some decent-sized singers. They
just didnt think it fit with the Priest style. My
tape was in their hands, and a week later I was
in the band. When I went back home, I was
afraid to tell anybody for fear they wouldnt
believe me.
My dream was to meet Judas Priest. I think
I came aboard for Screaming for Vengeance. My
brother got Screaming for Vengeance and I got
another record. It was 83 and I became a
fanatic. He played it and I was like . . . I mean
Halford changed his voice all the time, dif-
ferent guitar tones, the songs were versatile,
you know . . . theyre not going back to the old
catalog, Hell Bent for Leather and Sad Wings of
Destiny. I was just blown away. I was just like,
Wow! And when I would try to sing it, I was
like, this stuff s easy to sing and it was weird.
I told the guys that I had had a dream that
I did a soundcheck with them in Cleveland and
I sang Victim of Changes. Whats weird is,
thats the first song I tried out with. I just got
off the plane and I sang that song to a 1988
tape version. Theyre in the studio looking at
me wearing headphones, totally jet-lagged.
After I sang it, Glenn walked up to me and said,
If its up to me, youre in. Im not one to be
big-headed about myself in any way. It was
probably one thing that helped me get the gig.
I can sing classic Priest songs like Dreamer
Deceiver, but my voice can go off in other
directions. This is a whole new era. Judas Priest
has always gone with the times. Theyre not
going to wear shorts onstage with their hats on
backwards. Dont look for us to be head to toe
in leather and spikes either.
Says Ripper further, with respect to that
first day, I walked in the door and theres Ian
Hill sittin at this big giant breakfast table and
its like, uh! And [assistant manager] Jayne
said, Ian, this is Tim, and I was just like, God!
He gets up and walks over to me and I was just
like, Wow! Theres Ian Hill. The last thing I did
was got autographs before I left. I knew I made
the band though when I left, and I still got a
sheet of paper and got an autograph for my
parents more than me, but I was just amazed to
walk in and in the background hear guitars and
drums it was just like, Oh man!
A poignant end to the autograph tale has
Ripper adding his name to the sheet with an
addendum: Dreams do come true. Back in
Cleveland, picked up at the airport by his
Its fast and
aggressive and
its better than
parents, he handed the sheet to them. After
being convinced Tim had actually gotten the
gig, his mother burst into tears. Later, his dad
went and got a Priest tattoo on his bicep!
But back in England, as the story goes, Tim
was told to get some sleep, that the band would
deal with the audition in the morning. Tim
explained that he was too wired to wait, at
which time he sung both Victim of Changes
and The Ripper. Ripper, as alluded to, hadnt
even auditioned for the job. A tape of him
playing in a club had made its way from a fan
to Scott Travis who forwarded it to the deci-
sion-makers. No lead-singer auditions would
ever take place, because Ripper had been found
just before the process was to fire up, with
about 15 names on the list.
Thus began endless chatter around the
Ripper-era record that was to come . . . one day.
Ive probably enjoyed music more in the last
two or three years than I ever have, mused
Tipton, a good 15 months before the eventual
release of Jugulator, Rippers debut with the
band. Its been hectic for me lately. Ive had to
put my solo hat on, then my Judas Priest hat, so
I havent had much of a break, going from one
project to the other. But Ive always been a bit
of a workaholic; I welcome it really. I just fin-
ished mixing my solo album and everybodys
been very patient with me. And were going to
do some fine-tuning with the writing on Jugu-
lator, then were going to get Scott and Owens
back over in late August/September and well
finish the record by October. Were looking
towards a late 96 or early 97 release. We cant
rush it; we have to make sure that when we
deliver this record, its the best thing weve ever
done . . . in our eyes anyway.
Priest has always evolved. The new album
is very 96 but its Painkiller-ish. Weve never
rested on our laurels weve always moved
and evolved with the times. Its still unmistak-
ably Priest, its got a lot of character, but more
than ever. Its fast and aggressive and its better
than Painkiller. Its been weird though, because
weve written the album without a singer in
mind, which weve always done anyway. Weve
always put the music together and put the
vocal on last. So thats not been a problem for
us. But now that Owens has stepped in, well
Leah Burlington
probably collaborate with him and
write/rewrite some of the tracks. We still
havent chosen a producer, but it will only be a
coproduction basis, because we dont need any
help with arrangements or songwriting. It will
be a very good engineer or coproducer.
They wont need persuasion when they
hear him, warned Glenn with respect to
Ripper. Its that simple. One guy said to me
yesterday, Can there really be a Priest without
Rob Halford? I said, Come with me, and I
played him one take of Victim of Changes
that Owens recorded after getting off the plane.
After the first line he said, OK, Im converted.
The guys that good. Yes, until people hear him,
theyll be wary. I guarantee any doubts will be
resolved. Thats the confidence weve got now.
Hes a really nice guy too. Hes got no problem
being a front man. Hes just come out of the
blue. Weve never had much luck in this band;
weve had to make our own luck. But this is
certainly a turn of events and a twist of fate
that went for us. Owens can deal with any
Priest song and make mincemeat out of it. Ive
never been so stunned in all my career.
I havent spoken to him in five, six years,
said Glenn, about Halford. Theres no bitter-
ness in the air from my point. Good luck to
Rob, whatever he wants to do. You only live
once. If you choose to do a solo career, then
fine. Im not a bitter person anyway. I just
looked towards the future and Im excited. To
be honest with you, I really think the best thing
to happen to Judas Priest now was for Rob to
leave the band. If someones heart isnt in the
band, then youre going through the motions
and youre not really being positive. Weve got
fresh blood in a guy who is good, if not better
than Rob. Robs a great singer, but weve
replaced him now. Weve got a guy whose heart
and soul is in the band, just like us. Its also
Owens can dealwith
any Priest song and
make mincemeat out of it.
Ive never been so stunned
in all my career.
Leah Burlington
made me search within myself to find my
strength. Ive been more prolific than ever the
last two or three years. Ive really found the
strengths within me. Ive gone out, played with
young guys and come out feeling good about
it. At the end of the day, I should really say
thank you to Rob, because his decision to leave
the band has made me get off my ass and find
out whats really within me.
Jugulator finally saw the light of day in
October of 1997. Mark Wilkinson was once
again tapped for the cover art, the full painting
of which is more than impressive, one of his
best. Unfortunately, only a detail of the
painting was used for the cover, and the photo-
graph of this head-and-torso sampling was
fuzzy. In any event, another metal monster
the Jugulator was born of fire and steel (and
all that). A new logo, incorporating the bands
cross symbol, was also introduced to go along
with the all-new situation, which included a
drop down the record deal hierarchy in
America to CMC/BMG, in conjunction with a
Priest Music trinity that included SPV in
Europe and Zero in Japan.
Once inside the record, fans indeed found,
as Ian Hill indicates, an album that was a fren-
zied re-intensification of all the non-ironic,
mashing heavy metalness of the Painkiller
album. Well, theres no great outside influ-
ences on there. The main thing is that its been
seven years between Painkiller and this one,
and theres two albums missing there some-
where [laughs]. And we always try to take a
step forward with every one. We dont like to
rest on our laurels and say right, weve found a
formula and stick to it. So we figured we had to
take about three steps instead of one, so that
was the main thing about doing Jugulator.
But theres no mistaking the band had
decided to stay current, current meaning harsh.
Yeah, several, answers Hill when asked about
new bands Priest had been admiring. Pantera,
although theyre not a new band anymore, are
they? Machine Head, Fear Factory . . . theres a
whole string of them.
Theres a lot of new bands creeping up
everywhere, adds Ripper, also a factor in
keeping the direction of the new Priest young
and vital. Ive really been out of the scene.
Once I made Priest, I didnt listen to too much
other than Priest. Weve been into this new
album for so long. But I like Sevendust, and in
my hometown, Akron, Ohio, theres a band
called Spawn thats absolutely terrific. Theres
Winters Bane . . . metals so revived. Of course
you have Korn, and the five or ten bands that
sound like them Deftones, Coal Chamber.
Jugulators title track opens with a cinematic
scene from some hell. Quiet but foreboding
guitar gives way to heavier washes, a few toms
from Scott, and then a slow beat oer which
Ripper growls menacingly. Scott fires off some
double bass and were off to the races into a
hardcore take on the over-the-top Painkiller
premise. Blood Stained, which was also
included on the Bride of Chucky soundtrack, is
I should really say thank you
to Rob, because his decision
to leave the band has made me
get off my ass and find out
whats really within me.
next, Travis turning in another snare-on-one-
and-three rhythm, with K.K. and Glenn
responding with military riffs and lyrics to
match. Ripper has pronounced this his most
complete vocal performance on the album.
Dead Meat features the same rhythm yet
again, meaning essentially that groove to this
point has been sacrificed for a sort of relent-
less jackhammering, reinforced by the albums
steely and stiff self-production, the credit
going to K.K., Glenn and Sean Lynch, who had
worked with the likes of Sabbath, Gary
Numan and Brian May. Death Row starts
with the same guitar texture as both Jugu-
lator and Blood Stained but then quickly
transforms into the albums best riff, with
Ripper revealing himself as versatile, con-
vincing and technically perfect.
Next is Decapitate, on which the band go
for an expansive, languishing Sabbatharian
its unashamedly heavy
metal music. Were not
afraid to do it or admit it.
groove, one quite Fight-like in weight and dour
disposition. Burn in Hell is more of the same
hard to love, not very melodic, overly
spooky and scary heavy metal juvenilia a
little-utilized, live-themed video was shot for
this one. Brain Dead is also slow, but employs
a bit more of an upscale riff, not to mention a
more mature theme than much of the rest of
the album, but one nonetheless explored fully
through Starz Pull the Plug and Metallicas
One. Abductors is similarly mechanistic, as
is the metronomic Bullet Train, which was
floated as a lead single, perhaps because of its
stingy bit of melody come pre-chorus time.
The song actually received a Grammy nomina-
tion in early 99 for Best Metal Performance.
Closing the album is Cathedral Spires
(Ripper calls this the toughest song on the
album to sing), introd with spooky music like
many of the others, after which yet another big
batch of doom takes over, same one-and-three
double bass jackhammer . . . its baffling how
similar and simian these songs sounded.
I think theres a lot in those lyrics that
people didnt look into, defended Ripper
after hearing some stick about them on the
Jugulator tour. Blood Stained is obviously a
political song, pure politics. Decapitate is
about other parts of the world, where if you
commit a crime, you are simply decapitated
and not sent to jail. Brain Dead is my favorite
lyric on the album its about a guy laying
there looking up and saying, Hey wait a
minute, I really want to die. The whole family
is around his bed . . . I think people just looked
at the titles of songs and drew conclusions. I
think Jugulator is a damn good album, better
than most metal albums these days. I think that
its unashamedly heavy metal music. Were not
afraid to do it or admit it. And some people can
look at that as also being a negative. But were
not going to call ourselves pop rock. And if
someone doesnt like it, fuck em.
Its just how we feel at the moment,
defended Glenn, at the suggestion brutal
might describe the new vibe. Every Priest
album has its own character. Jugulator stands
on its own merits. We feel brutal at the
moment. Every album that weve done has its
own mood. Theres not a lot of melody out
there at the moment, but weve never really
worried about anyone else. We just feel
between-the-eyes brutal; I think weve got
about seven years of pent-up frustration to get
out, and weve definitely got something to
prove. If you listen to this album, it doesnt
sound like anybody else. Its unmistakably
Priest. Listen to the intro of Burn in Hell, the
screams in Bullet Train, its raw Judas Priest.
Theres a high scream at the end of Bullet
Train. Have a close listen to it and you think
there are two vocals. Its one vocal, no effect.
He splits his voice. We were putting the vocals
down, looking around the mixing board to see
if there was an effect on somewhere. It was
Tims natural voice split into two.
Addressing the currency of Jugulators
sound, Glenn argued that the glamour of
heavy metal had been necessarily stripped
away, and that the new reality in the scene was
more hardcore and earthy, adding Weve
always said that we gain inspiration from
younger bands, but we never ever imitate any-
body. Weve always been leaders if you like; in
our own inimitable way, we do our own thing.
This album, not only does it not sound like
anybody else, its unashamedly metal. Theres
nobody else out there brave enough to stand
alone and say, This is a heavy fucking metal
album. In 1997, people are going, Were alter-
native/death/thrash metal, thinking they
might sell more albums. Well, weve made a
brave stand and said, This is heavy metal; it
isnt dated, it isnt 1987 metal, but its heavy
metal and we do it well and this is the best we
can do, like it or leave it.
Weve always had our ears to the ground;
its not like we think we know it all and 87
metal is going to sell nowadays. Youve got to
move with the times but keep your own iden-
tity something weve always protected
and you have to evolve. Hopefully our music
will appeal to the younger generation. I know it
will appeal to the hardened Priest fans, and I
know that our music has evolved, but I know it
hasnt changed enough to offend anybody.
Hopefully its changed enough to attract the
younger generation as well. We dont expect to
convert everybody overnight. Weve got some
hard work in front of us. Weve got a lot of live
shows to do to prove ourselves. Im confident.
I know were going to be better than ever, but
weve still got to go out there and prove it to
everybody else.
The January 30, 1998, show in Norfolk, Vir-
ginia, was to be Rippers first with the band. A
maximum of four songs from Jugulator had
made the set list, namely Blood Stained,
Bullet Train, Burn in Hell, and less regu-
larly, Death Row. The album would go on to
sell some 111,000 copies, not bad given the cir-
cumstances at hand, a big curiosity factor
obviously part and parcel of those strong sales.
A couple of months were logged in some pretty
small venues before the band skipped over to
Europe, the wholly incongruous Gorefest in
tow, a quite intensive blanketing of the conti-
nent ensuing. Sold-out Japanese dates were
next before the band wrapped up and
regrouped, figuring it was time for a live
album, so anybody who wasnt at the shows
could hear for themselves what a treasure the
band had in its new boy from Cleveland. . . .
baptizm of fire
(Atlantic, February 97)
Hard Core
Paint it Black
Enter the Storm
Fuel Me Up
Baptizm of Fire
The Healer
Cruise Control
Kill or Be Killed
Voodoo Brother
Left for Dead
Edge of the World
(Rhino, March 06)
Unknown Soldier
Friendly Fire
The Holy Man
Never Say Die
Give Blood
Crime of Passion
Walls Cave In
Edge of the World
Stronger than the Drug
A lot of strength and character,
thanks to those two guys
Glenn Tipton
Holding up the release of Jugulator was
the work Glenn Tipton was doing on his
first solo album. Baptizm of Fire would
find Glenn teaming up with then-cur-
rent hot and heavies such as Ozzys
Robert Trujillo (previously of Suicidal
Tendencies and now in Metallica), Ugly
Kid Joes Shannon Larkin (now in
Godsmack) and Mr. Bigs Billy Sheehan
(also of Talas and David Lee Roth
fame). Artists of a previous generation,
such as Cozy Powell, John Entwistle and
Don Airey were also a part of the
complicated finished production.
Judge me by the solo album, said Tipton
gearing up for the impending release of both
the solo album and Jugulator, because Ive
been playing with some young guys. Although
I havent indulged guitar-wise, theres still
plenty of guitar there for people who are inter-
ested in listening to the way that Ive
advanced. The emphasis on this album is good
songs, with a lot of character. I mean, vocally,
I dont have the range of many singers, but Ive
had the luxury of writing the songs around my
voice. Solo albums are the kiss of death some-
times, but this will always be me working with
other people. My heart and soul is in Priest
and thats the most important thing in my life.
But this album is also very dear to me. I spent
a lot of time on it. I think people are really
going to like it.
A discussion of Baptizm of Fire necessarily
takes in two sets of sessions, the culmination of
the story reaching as far as spring 2006, with
the release of the expanded edition of the
album (remastered and including two bonus
tracks, New Breed and Himalaya, the latter
I always knew how great a
drummer Cozy was, but I hadnt
realized untilthat point,
just how great John was.
the original Japanese bonus track) and Edge of
the World, credited to Tipton, Entwistle and
Powell, a surreal lineup given that two of that
trio were deceased at the time of issue.
Baptizm of Fire was essentially a slightly
more relaxed and melodic version of the dark,
doomy, mechanistic metal of Jugulator. An
excellent sort of campfire ballad called Left for
Dead would close the album, and a nasty
version of the Stones Paint it Black would
provide light relief, as would Glenns admit-
tedly weak but somewhat charming vocals.
Fuel Me Up was another highlight, providing
a glimpse of what a melodic and hooky vocal
can do to a robotic riff, something that might
have made parts of Jugulator more memorable.
Discussing the release of Edge of the World,
Tipton unravels the turn of events that resulted
in two albums worth of material. Basically, the
story was, the first batch of songs I did . . . when
Priest were inactive and Rob was doing his own
thing, at that point in time we didnt know if
there was going to be any more Priest tours or
recordings or anything, and I decided to start
writing some material. I approached Cozy, and
we looked around and thought for a long time
who could play bass, and then we thought of
John. And John came around to a little studio in
Wales and it was just incredible, really. I always
knew how great a drummer Cozy was, but I
hadnt realized until that point, just how great
John was. In fact, he could play any kind of bass.
So we did the first batch of songs, and at that
point in time, Atlantic were interested. But they
felt that the lineup was, in inverted commas, a
bit old school, and encouraged me and I had
very little choice at the time to work with
some younger musicians over in the States, Billy
Sheehan and Shannon Larkin and Robert
Trujillo, to name a few. And honestly, a really
good album came out of that. And we used a
couple of tracks with John and Cozy, but there
was a mixture of musicians on that album.
The first batch of songs, which is now Edge
of the World, I always had a lot of affection for,
and I always felt it was unique in the blend of
musicians on there, particularly Cozy and
John. As a three-piece band, it was a pretty
magical blend of styles, so I always got a lot of
affection for those and I always hoped that they
could see the light of day. It wasnt until
recently, when Rhino/Warner heard them, that
they said, Yeah, people have got to hear these
a lot of strength and character,
thanks to those two guys
tracks. There is some phenomenal playing on
there by John and Cozy. So I would say that
Baptizm of Fire is probably more modern
metal, even though it was done back in 96,
because its got the younger musicians on it, all
of who are excellent musicians. And I would
say that Edge of the World probably has more
character as a band, because it was just me and
John and Cozy thats the way I would differ-
entiate between the two.
There was a time when there was talk of it,
yes, laughs Tipton, asked if there was ever a
point when Cozy had been considered as
drummer for Priest. And that never came
about because we got Scott. And Cozy went
into Sabbath for a while. But there was talk of
it, and it was a possibility at some point. But I
always felt that the two best rock drummers
were certainly John Bonham and Cozy, so I
have a lot of respect for him. But no, back in
the 70s, Cozy was always busy. There was
never a time when he wasnt in a band or doing
something. So I dont think it was an option
round about then only later.
Cozy is, I think, just the archetypal rock
drummer, says Glenn of Powell, killed in a car
crash on April 5, 1998, about a year after Bap-
tizm was released. When you set foot in a
studio with him, he gets a grasp straight away
for what that song needs on a drum level. And
hes got the ability to play everything from rock
to jazz. He was a master of the double kick, or
he could lay single pedal patterns down, but
when a song needed a fill, Cozy could put the
exact fill in that it needed. And that was his
strength. He didnt overplay if it wasnt neces-
sary, but hes got so much inside him, if it was
required . . . you know, thats a master musi-
cian, someone that doesnt overplay, someone
who does exactly what the song wants, but who
is capable of much more if its needed.
Said Glenn of working with coproducer
Mark Dodson, We go back a long time. We
worked on Sad Wings of Destiny back in the
early Priest days. Hes always been a good
friend of mine, and we always got on well in
the studio. And Mark was very instrumental in
putting some of the musicians together for
Baptizm of Fire. Because he worked with them;
he worked with Robert Trujillo, so he knew a
lot of the musicians from over there. And
Marks got a good ear; Ive got a lot of respect
for him. In terms of Don Airey, Don worked on
both albums; not on every track, but he was
instrumental, for want of a better word, on a
couple of them. And it is fitting that Don
would be there, because he was always a good
friend of Cozy. They were great friends, and
they had worked a lot together. So he was very
instinctive, and we knew what we wanted.
Glenn added that he was able to spread his
wings as it were, here, versus the confines of
the Priest. Very much so. Solo albums are a
funny animal, really. Theyre done for the right
reasons or theyre done for the wrong reasons.
You know, at the time when I started to write
these tracks, there was no Priest. So initially it
was done for the right reason. And another
reason I do them is to work with other musi-
cians. Its a great opportunity to just get a feel
a lot of strength and character,
thanks to those two guys
thats a master musician,
someone that doesnt
overplay, someone who does
exactly what the song wants,
but who is capable of much
more if its needed.
Leah Burlington
and experiment and jam and work with other
musicians. But I think one of the main reasons
is, as long as youre not sort of indulgent on
the solo album, I believe a solo album should
be all about the songs. Not really you as a
musician, but great songs and what you can
come up with as a song, or a band making a
song. But also youve got the ability, and you
just hit the nail on the head, to explore more
areas and touch on areas that you wouldnt do
with your own band, i.e. Judas Priest. You can
visit musical areas that just arent appropriate
for Priest. You can also visit lyrical areas that
you certainly wouldnt approach with Priest.
And thats the major reason youre doing these
albums. Theres no reason on this planet that I
would emulate Judas Priest, as a solo musi-
cian. I wouldnt come close because Priest for
me is arguably the best metal band on the
planet as a solo artist, I would never try to
compete with that.
A lot of my favorite music is film themes,
says Glenn, addressing the bonus tracks on the
06 version of Baptizm of Fire. I love the dra-
matic fire of it. So I consider this a sort of
soundtrack, Zeppelin-istic, if there is such a
word, type of track. And I like the size of it. Its
a great big dramatic track, and Im very much
into things like that. And New Breed is very
interesting, because its a song I wrote with my
daughter Corina, and my son Ricky plays
drums on it. So its a family affair, in a way, a
metal family affair. But its certainly not the
Brady Bunch, by any means. And these tracks
come from different sessions.
John was incredible, muses Glenn,
recounting how the legendary Who bassist
ended up here in the metal realm, and then
dead on June 27, 2002, from a combination of
cocaine use and a bad heart. I said early on,
Cozy, there was no doubt in my mind how
great a drummer Cozy was, and we spent a lot
of time thinking who could be the other mem-
bers of the band. And Johns name came up,
and we thought about it, and I always knew he
was a great player with The Who, and we
shared the same manager, Bill Curbishley. And
through Bill I contacted John and played him
some songs, and he said, Id love to take part.
Leah Burlington
So we brought him down to a little studio in
Wales called Monnow Valley, and I just really
couldnt believe the talent and versatility that
John had. He came down, he brought about
eight to twelve different basses, eight-string
basses, 12-string basses, this sort of thing. And
he was capable of playing anything
absolutely floored me. And I know, the one
track he struck up called Give Blood, [on Edge
of the World not the Pete Townshend song!]
me and Cozy looked at each other, and it could
have been no other bass player in the world but
John. And suddenly we realized wed got a
great blend there, a pretty unique blend. And
OK, it was done in 96, but I still think the
album has a lot of strength and character,
thanks to those two guys.
The Edge of the World material was similar
to that of Baptizm of Fire in that Glenns dis-
tinct and breathless vocals are there, as is his
very loud and distorted guitar sound. Powell is
dominant though, turning many of the songs
additionally rhythmic along his signature
boomy and bashy line. There are also more
keyboards, giving the record an odd grounding
within a mid-80s tradition like heavy Pete
Townshend and Gary Moore or even select
Robert Plant solo tracks. Much of the album
sounds epic, expansive due to the variety
between tracks and layers within the arrange-
ments. Give Blood is definitely a raucous
highlight, given its party atmosphere and elec-
tricity from all angles. Entwistles Lemmy-fied
bass thrum can be heard within this one, and
even more so on Walls Cave In, a thumping
funkster that also manages a bit of a Zeppelin
vibe. The title track is also quite memorable,
given, again, a Zeppelin-esque thump, as well
as a proggy vibe as the band careens and lum-
bers from one key passage to another, then into
a huge holler-along chorus that anchors the
album impressively.
a lot of strength and character,
thanks to those two guys
Leah Burlington
98 Live Meltdown
(Steamhammer/SPV, October 98)
Disc 1
The Hellion
Electric Eye
Metal Gods
Rapid Fire
Blood Stained
The Sentinel
Touch of Evil
Burn in Hell
The Ripper
Bullet Train
Beyond the Realms of Death
Death Row
Disc 2
Metal Meltdown
Night Crawler
Victim of Changes
Diamonds and Rust
Breaking the Law
The Green Manalishi
(with the Two-Pronged Crown)
Youve Got Another Thing Comin
Hell Bent for Leather
Living After Midnight
Licorice root in caplet form
98 Live Meltdown
Priest saw two releases in 1998, one a
little-discussed compilation put out by
the bands old label, Sony, called Live &
Rare. Issued on March 17, and only in
Japan and the U.K., the album contained
a scant nine live tracks (all previously
available b-sides except one), plus the Hi
Octane Mix of Turbo Lover. The
album rarely shows up in the lexicon of
the official Priest discography, due to its
compilation nature, its non-North
American issue, its tossed-off cover
graphics, and its skimpy track listing.
Priest isnt a band with a lot in the way of
rarities, but the reissue program of 01
would prove that there were a handful of
goofy curios to be had.
More importantly (but only just!), the band
issued, on September 28th, 98 Live Meltdown, a
power-packed double CD showcasing Rippers
extensive skills as replacement for the Metal
God, the versions chosen as much for extent of
crowd reaction as they were for performance by
the band.
Explained Owens, Throughout the whole
tour the shows were going so good and the
response was great, and we were going through
Europe, and we decided maybe the time is
right to put out a live album and show what a
raw heavy metal show was all about. And thats
basically what this album is. Its raw, it shows a
lot of the crowd, we didnt overdub things. We
also wanted to show that I was accepted with
open arms. There were a few songs, probably
more than a few, that were better vocally than
Mick Hutson/Redferns
the versions that made the record, but we were
looking for takes where the whole structure
the crowd, the whole way the band works
was our best version. It was probably about a
dozen shows; we just took a DAT and started
taping. All the takes are from European dates,
including London and probably Brussels. In
terms of the songs, Diamonds and Rust was
only played at a couple of shows, but we now
have that in our American set. And Rapid Fire
was one that was only played at a few shows.
Ripper figures that out of all the guys,
Tipton did most of the work putting the record
together. I was in there for a while and did
quite a bit of stuff, threw around a few ideas,
helped out. My ideas were more about which
songs we should choose, title of the album, art-
work, maybe stuff I said live that I didnt want
in there, or songs I thought really went well.
With respect to his live persona, Ripper says
there wasnt much tampering with his style.
No, not at all. You know, we just went and
rehearsed. I think we worked out a few things
about what to say between songs, how that
works with the songs themselves. But no,
nothing. It was just a natural groove. I think its
changed a bit since the beginning. There were
a few bad shows on that tour the Toronto
show and the Washington show were not great;
my throat just wasnt good. Ive now just had
two of my better shows ever in Phoenix and
L.A. I just sung amazing. I have another
show in L.A. tonight, and Im thinking, well if
I dont sing so great tonight, thats OK because I
sung really good last night [laughs].
licorice root in caplet form
I have another show in L.A.
tonight, and Im thinking,well
if I dont sing so great tonight,
thats ok because I sung
really good last night.
In Japan I think it was around 4000
people, in a theatre, says Ripper about crowd
size on the tour, adding that he had thought
Jugulator had done about a half million in sales
worldwide. In Mexico we did a show with
Megadeth where there were 1516,000 people
that was fun. Europe was in that 2000, 3000
range, although Spain was 6000.
I do exercise regularly, and right now Im
mad because theres no gym in this hotel, says
Ripper, when asked about keeping his voice in
shape. Im going to have to try and find one
up the street. I drink a lot of water, take vita-
mins. I have licorice root in capsule form, and
I also have it in liquid form. You put it in a little
bit of water and you drink it, and its good for
your throat. But I like the caplets because you
can open them up and pour the powder in. Ive
only been doing it for about a week. Some
singer in my hometown recommended that. In
terms of alcohol, sometimes I dont drink any-
thing; sometimes its one or two beers after the
show. Even when Im in the same place for two
nights last night I had two beers, and as a
matter of fact, half of one of them is still sitting
right here by my bed.
Many fans figured it was Ripper who was
the catalyst for pushing Jugulator more youth-
fully extreme. Not so, says Owens. I think
theyre more knowledgeable about modern
metal than I am. Theyve always listened to it,
probably more than I do. I listen to a lot of
hometown bands, bands like Spawn, Disen-
gage. I also like the new Anthrax a lot, and in
the old days, Maiden, Dio, Priest. In terms of
non-metal, I like Harry Connick Jr., that chick
with the glasses, Lisa Loeb, Id do her; Id steam
up her glasses. In terms of classics, Bachman
Turner Overdrive the old BTO, baby!
REO Speedwagon. I like Elvis, and you know
what? One of my favorites is Dion & the Bel-
monts, which my dad used to always play.
Not much Dion & the Belmonts influence
on 98 Live Meltdown. Tim does a killer job of
growling his way menacingly through these 24
tracks, with five bloodstained selections lifted
from Jugulator, and a good look at the
Painkiller album added for obvious synergy. In
terms of old chestnuts, Rapid Fire is a wel-
come obscurity, as is The Sentinel, while
Beyond the Realms of Death and Diamonds
and Rust are offered bravely and beautifully
rendered. Indeed, the idea to perform Dia-
monds and Rust acoustic came from an
experience during a photo shoot. Apparently
the band was bored, waiting to strike their
poses. To pass the time, they picked up acoustic
guitars and ran through a few Priest classics
Still, fans were getting restless, looking at
the release of a live album as a bit of a cash-in.
Subsequently, portions of the base would be
asking impatiently for a new studio album,
while another flank of the leather faithful took
to chattering about wanting Rob back in black,
perched at his rightful throne, ready to erase
the current memory of a Priest so unforgiving
and humorless.
licorice root in caplet form
(Nothing, March 98)
I Am a Pig
Stutter Kiss
Waters Leaking
My Ceilings Low
Leave Me Alone
Deep in the Ground
Hey, Sha La La
Wake Up
Bed of Rust
Priest was wrapped in black and back,
and although reviews of Jugulator
leaned toward the negative, the band had
noticeably regained some ground on the
road. If the bands new writing both
lyrics and music could be faulted as
garish, juvenile, and hard to love, none
of that fell to Ripper. Jugulator had been
written before Owens arrived, credit for
these joyless and braying songs going
simply to K.K. and Glenn. Whats more,
Ripper was blazing a red-hot trail live.
Crowds understandably compared the
band to that of the glory years a result
of an ailing industry as much as a change
of singer but those who came to the
altar of the Priest for the most part left
jaw-dropped at the power and persona
of the new man at the mic.
This surely must have chafed Robs leather
chaps. Priest had some thunder and he seemed
to want to steal some of it, especially after peri-
odic rapping at the door to get back in. His
hat-backwards outfit Fight had fought its last,
and Rob was about to unleash Two, a band
concept that seemed to throw not the horns
but the finger to his metal roots. Ergo, Rob
famously declared metal dead, raised the level
of ire aimed at his old bands and made a bunch
of no-never-again pronouncements, stating
that he could never under any circumstances
play with the Priest again.
He also came out of the closet on MTV, and
then once out, became pretty preachy about
being gay, being yourself, the responsibilities of
coming out of the closet. This opened new
doors for the man press-wise and he walked
through them and gave his sermons. Priest
then was forced to talk about it, and, well, some
of Priests thunder as a band struggling for new
life was, in effect, stolen. Rob being gay wasnt
exactly a secret, but he and the four other guys
in the band had never talked about it openly in
25 years of doing business. The lid was pretty
effectively put on this nugget of information,
in a sense, almost perfectly, from a public rela-
tions standpoint. A portion of the industry
fans, insiders, press knew, but all were polite
about not pointing it out. Amusingly, this
meant that rarely was there ever anything to
deny. Significantly, it also would have been a
surprise to millions of people, maybe even tens
of thousands of fans. Thats quite plausible,
because, as I say, it was never talked about. So
though it might not seem like a big deal
now, here was Priest having to deal with it, talk
about Rob when theyd rather be talking about
their new singer and their new music. Also,
given that heavy metal is such a hetero
maledominated arena, its possible the bands
reputation suffered at least slightly from Robs
But the main news was that Rob had a new
industrial-flavored band called Two, along with
a new album of all original material called
Voyeurs. What happened was we had originally
called ourselves Halford, explains Rob. We
positive/negative, harmony,
two people to make a relationship
. . . it just all seemed to make sense.
put together the original batch of songs that we
had been making in L.A., and we had played a
few dates in order to bring in a few industry
people to check this out. Then there was Gimp;
that was basically the name we agreed to go
with. Then we found out there was another
band called Gimp who had the trademark. So
we had to drop that idea completely. In retro-
spect the decision was a good one I would
dread being in a band called Gimp right now. It
wouldnt have felt the least bit right. So we were
kind of nameless for a while. Until it was one of
those things where you can see the wood for the
trees, you know? Two of us started this band, so
we decided to call the band Two, but from there
it then made sense because of the other things
associated with the word two: action/reaction,
positive/negative, harmony, two people to make
a relationship, the kind of technological edge of
things . . . it just all seemed to make sense. We
did not want to give a name that put a picture
in the head, you know . . . like Kitchen Sink. We
did not want people to hear it and imagine,
Oh, so thats what thats going be like. We just
wanted an almost nameless identity.
Robs writing partners for the Two material
would be producer Bob Marlette, notable for
his collaborations with Alice Cooper, and gui-
tarist John Lowery, or John 5, who has
worked with Marilyn Manson, David Lee Roth,
and more recently, Rob Zombie. The rest of the
lineup was a bit fluid between the recording
and the subsequent debacle of a tour, about
which Rob, at the time, was his ever-hopeful
self. Its a five-piece band, and weve already
began rehearsing here in L.A. and it just really
sounds great. The cool thing about it . . . people
who know about me and my background
know that Ive been associated with a band
thats had a lot of power, a lot of drive, a lot of
heavy tone and a lot of energy.
action/reaction, positive/negative
In retrospect the decision
was a good one I would
dread being in a band
called Gimp right now.
But that didnt mean Rob was positioning
this new thing as exactly that, or exactly metal.
I still follow it. Its still an important part of
my life, explained Rob, asked about his rela-
tionship to the genre at this juncture. I still
love that music so much, but then all the years
I was associated with Priest, my musical tastes
were just as broad and diverse and eclectic as
they are now. Its just that I chose to put myself
in that particular area, because at that time
thats where I felt the most comfortable and
the most productive. I just felt that by the time
the Painkiller record came out, and by the time
we played that very last show in Toronto, I just
felt that my journey was complete. There was
more for me to do, and the only way to do that
was for me to take a walk from one musical
environment into another.
Still, Rob doesnt cop to the fact that,
through the last four or five records, it was
becoming more about monsters made of
metal. No, personally, I never felt that way. I
got a great deal of satisfaction personally out of
writing songs like Night Crawler and Stained
Class. I mean, there were endless experimenta-
tions on themes of fantastic figures and so
forth, some of it not so fantastic, but pretty
straightforward, in songs like Living After
Midnight and Breaking the Law. So for me, it
was always a lot of fun to sit down with a pen
and a blank sheet of paper and create these
things. I went sociopolitical on some of the
stuff with Fight; it was kind of a moment of
letting go, encapsulating some of the things
that had been building up inside me. So the
Fight experience was a good one; we had a
good time making those two records, but I
think the feeling was mutual after A Small
Deadly Space it was where else do we go
next? It was kind of a burned-out format,
musically speaking. I think that band was a
Therewas more for me to do, and
the only way to do that was for me
to take a walk from one musical
environment into another.
combination of everybodys feelings. Im only
now beginning to appreciate what Fight did to
people. Maybe I was too close to it to really
understand where it went, what it meant, and
where it might have gone later on.
I would say that our roots are still very
much in rock, continued Rob, discussing Two,
but its a new hybrid of whats going on
around us right now. There are elements of
rock throughout this record caught up with
electronica and techno stuff, and its just really
a multidimensional experience. I dont think
you can stick a label effectively on it because we
deal in lot of different things. One minute were
doing a pop rock song like Hey, Sha La La, and
the next thing were doing something really
deep and moving like Bed of Rust. Its just very
cut up, you know? Its hard to pin down.
Lyrically, a lot of it is abstract, but some of
it is pretty straightforward like Leave Me
Alone. But songs like If and My Ceilings
Low and Stutter Kiss and Waters Leaking
leave me with a kind of confused feeling. Im
trying to make the words as interesting and as
unusual as some of the sounds that surround
them, so Im not really going out there to send
a specific message in the whole piece. Some of
it has that effect, but some of its . . . well, words
put together in a strange way. The vocal
approaches on Stutter Kiss and a bunch of the
other songs, that was really drawn out of me by
the work of Bob Marlette, one of the original
songwriters for Two. He was really my vocal
coach and was really pushing me to take my
vocal abilities into different areas which I really
had not done before. Lyrically, Im mostly a last
minute kind of guy anyway. I just carry all this
stuff around in me and I sit down and listen to
a certain piece of music and how it makes me
feel and figure out what I want to try to say. So
its kind of spontaneous. The lyrics for Two
came quickly.
Some of the additional press Two enjoyed
was due to the fact that the album was issued
on Trent Reznors label, Nothing. It was really
one of those rock n roll things; we had met
action/reaction, positive/negative
for the first time at a party in New Orleans,
says Rob on the collaboration. And I had
done some demos, and he asked if he could
hear them. So I played them for him, and that
was it. I didnt hear anything from him for
weeks and months until I went back to
Phoenix from New Orleans, and he just called
me up out of the blue one day and offered me,
first of all, a record contract, and more impor-
tantly, he said he wanted to give me ideas and
impressions of where the music could go,
from its original presentation.
The material, says Rob, became transformed,
dramatically. He literally reconstructed every-
thing and rebuilt it together with the melody
the pure source of the material is still pretty
much intact. But all of the cool things that are
going on around it are all out of Trents world.
Executive producer credit would go to Trent,
producer credit to Marlette, and additional pro-
duction credit to Dave Rave Ogilvie, of Skinny
Puppy fame a bytehead trinity to be sure.
Of note, John 5, a big part of the Voyeurs
writing process, wasnt around for a chunk of
the sessions. I went on tour with a female artist
named Leah Andreone, on RCA Records, and
when I went on tour, Rob was at Trents studio
in New Orleans, which . . . I wouldve given any-
thing to be there, but I was in the middle of
France playing these shows. So I unfortunately
missed all of that. Im such a big Nine Inch
Nails fan, and I was so crushed, and I remember
getting phone cards over in France and calling
over there, How does it sound? [laughs]. It was
too bad I missed that whole thing in New
Orleans . . . And all of this took some time
the album was in fact scheduled for an early 97
release, but delays due to the Trent Reznor piece
took it into the following year.
Indeed Voyeurs (working title: Gear) turned
out to be your standard industrial metal album
of the day, nothing more, nothing less. Vocals
get treatment, as do drums, amid many key-
board blips and blorps and churning,
humorless riffs set on a bed of mechanistic,
fatigue-inducing rhythms. Press reaction was
almost entirely negative. The production is
amazing, and the songs do cohere, building a
whole that is better than the sum of its parts.
Its also cool to see this other side of Rob a
man who hides much of what he is. But alas,
Voyeurs was viewed as a braying, awkward
shock of attempted trendiness, and its repeti-
tive, nursery rhyme vocal melodies drove fans
nuts. Worse, it now sounds dated.
Rob has indicated at least elliptically that
Twos short-lived time on the road was demor-
alizing, and that the writing was on the wall
that he was what he was, and that was, essen-
tially, the father of power metal. Post-release
and pre-tour, Rob roll-called the lineup that
would try to perform the complicated album
as Sid Riggs, a very powerful freaky-looking
dude on drums, Ray Riendeau on bass he
used to be with Machines of Loving Grace
and James Wooley on keyboards, who used to
be with Nine Inch Nails. Were going to use
James talents to make the sounds off the
record that are obviously not from guitar or
bass. We only have enough material for barely
an hour, and if were going to be in headline
mode in some locations, then well pull out
some of the other work, i.e. Priest. Weve talked
about it, and we want to do it. It would be a
cool thing to do. Weve not rehearsed any of
that yet, but were making up a list.
Priest material did eventually make the set
list, but that didnt stop shows in America and
Europe being cancelled due to low ticket sales.
There are even stories of fans burning their
Priest concert T-shirts in protest, not to men-
tion hoots and jeers and cutting requests for
Priest classics. Its for history to decide whether
declining an offer to join Ozzfest 98 was in the
bands best interest or not.
That was so great, because he was such a
nice guy, said John 5, with respect to his brief
Two experience. You hate to meet your idols
when theyre not really nice to you. But he was
such a cool, cool down-to-earth guy and it was
so cool to have him in such a great working
atmosphere. And of course, he was an amazing
singer, one of the best in the world. He was on
the money every night and a real pleasure to
work with. It just didnt seem like he ever had
a bad day. It just didnt ever seem like he was
down. He was always very motivated and up
and ready to do anything. And in the studio, he
action/reaction, positive/negative
just comes in and belts! I mean, he likes the
studio dark and cool and stuff like that, but he
just comes into the studio and makes it his own
world. He just belts and sings so perfect, no
pitch correction even his timing was great.
We got such a mixed crowd, recalls John,
diplomatic as ever, looking at the difficulty the
band had convincing people of the value of
Two in a concert situation. We got a lot of
goth people, but then a lot of Judas Priest fans,
of course. So it came across where people were
dying to hear that Priest stuff, and it really
wasnt that kind of band. It was more like a
current, industrial rock thing, you know? Trent
Reznor was a coproducer on that as well, so it
was more along those lines. And I dont think
those old Priest fans really got that. But we had
such a good time. I didnt really see him
bummed out or anything. He probably just
kept it in, you know? And we did some phe-
nomenal shows, some cool, big shows. I dont
remember any problems. I mean, people wor-
ship that guy; people love that guy. He would
get so many fans wanting to meet him. At The
Palace in Los Angeles . . . people are still talking
about that show. It seemed like everybody was
at that show, including Bruce Dickinson. We
played with Rammstein, and it was just a star-
studded event.
Indeed its been said that Halford was upset
that Two was opening for Rammstein, but the
guys in Rammstein never saw it that way,
saying that essentially they were two bands
playing on the same day, as a package. In any
event, the show is considered a bit of a mile-
stone in Rammsteins modest success in
America, a sort of icebreaker for the pyroma-
niac Germans, as it were. All told, Two played
approximately 22 dates in the U.S. through
April and May of 98, with the show at the
Palace being the fifth, on April 27th. In and
around 19 more dates were logged once the
band got to Europe, from mid-June to mid-
July of that year. Rob is said to have made his
decision to knock the Two idea on its head
during the Switzerland stop, promptly can-
celing the balance of the tour.
And for John 5, Twos demise opened the
door toward his next step up the rock n shock
food chain, one that eventually deposited him
in the position of right-hand man to Rob
We did a tour in the States, which was so
fun, and then we went to Europe and had a
great time there. I think we played the whole
second side of Sin After Sin I think we did all
of that. Now, help me out here. I think thats the
record where there are big epic songs that run
into each other? People went nuts for that. But
I remember we were playing our last show, I
think in Germany, and Marilyn Manson was
going to be there. I was really into Marilyn
Manson, I was like, Oh god, gotta see Manson.
But then he canceled and I was really bummed,
because I kept on missing going to see Marilyn
Manson. I had tried so many times, but I was
either playing with k.d. lang or something like
that. But they canceled, and we came back from
the Halford tour and I joined Marilyn Manson,
and that was pretty much the end of that.
Theres some controversy over the timing of
John 5 quitting Two, his departure to replace
Zim Zum in Marilyn Manson listed as July 98,
with a debate over a possible touring gig with
David Lee Roth thrown into the mix as well.
Whatever the case, it was the final nail in the
coffin. Rob had cited lack of label support for
cutting the tour short, yet he still spoke of
plans to continue the band, albeit in a more
heavy metal and less industrial direction. Hal-
ford had even recorded some demos with new
guitarist Derek Taylor, but then officially left
Nothing Records and put Two to rest. His next
move, the Halford band, would efficiently
incinerate memories of Robs bold venture into
industrial, and clearly put the Metal God back
in the good books of the heavy metal faithful.
action/reaction, positive/negative
(Metal-Is, August 00)
Made in Hell
Locked and Loaded
Night Fall
Silent Screams
The One You Love to Hate
Slow Down
(Metal-Is, June 02)
Park Manor
One Will
Handing out Bullets
Hearts of Darkness
Wrath of God
Weaving Sorrow
Trail of Tears
live insurrection
(Metal-Is, April 01)
Disc 1:
Made in Hell
Into the Pit
Nailed to the Gun
Light Comes out of Black
Stained Class
Running Wild
Slow Down
The One You Love to Hate
Life in Black
Hells Last Survivor
Sad Wings
Silent Screams
Disc 2:
The Hellion
Electric Eye
Riding on the Wind
Beyond the Realms of Death
Metal Gods
Breaking the Law
Screaming in the Dark
Heart of a Lion
Prisoner of Your Eyes
This is where allthe best
things happen for me
As the sliders came up on the first Halford
band CD, there was our man feeling and
singing high as a lead zeppelin. And once
Metal Mike Chlasciak ripped into the riff
of the opening track of the Halfords
back title track, a studded gauntlet was
thrown down. It was a development to be
sure third time persistent: Rob had
now created a screecher of a heavy metal
classic universally seen as better than the
current offering from the root band,
Judas Priest.
Resurrection, from a band called Halford,
would be issued on August 8, 2000, and by all
accounts fans were thrilled, the general con-
sensus being that this was the kind of album
wed all like from Priest right about now, the
quality of Resurrection tipping the scales to the
point where folks were considering Halford
essentially the current, serviceable, viable,
authentic-as-possible version of Priest. Its
worth a good long look at this record, if only
for the fact that youd be hard-pressed to find
a Priest fan who doesnt consider it a bold and
essential part of the twisted tale.
Its all relevant to the musicians you are
working with, began Rob, one week before the
albums release, crediting the men that fought
for Resurrection and won. And the key
writers on this record besides myself are Pat
Lachman and Metal Mike, the two guitar
players, and to some extent Roy Z. So these two
guys, Pat and Mike, brought in their own ideas
from the world of metal that they loved, into
the writing process. So it was very freeform, the
way we went, other than the use of metal riffs,
metal rhythms, and all the key ingredients to
making good metal songs. And Roy Zs main
guidance was that we had to make sure the
platform was there for the voice. So I would say
the way it differs from a Priest album is that its
obviously brand new players bringing their
own style and character to the writing and per-
forming. But there are some traditional
elements of Priest in there, because again the
voice works best in certain frameworks. But I
love the record because its broad-based. You
have parts of it that have a twinge of whats
happened before, and then you have great
moments like Silent Screams, which have the
elements of a classic metal ballad in the front
end and then it just takes off into this new
realm. And youve got a song like Slow Down
which is a great balance as far as a different
type of metal approach. Its a unique record.
Roy Z is credited with helping Bruce Dick-
inson realize his solo album dreams, Bruce
whether he wants to go about admitting it or
not in possession of a record every bit as
good as anything Maiden has ever done, The
Chemical Wedding, and two, Accident of Birth
and Tyranny of Souls, that would slay at least
half the Maiden catalog at a distance of twenty
leg-warmered paces.
This left Bob Marlette of Two infamy on the
sidelines. It was difficult for me to move on
from Bob because hes a very good friend as
well as a great writer, explained Rob. But I
just felt that instinctively I needed to go with
Roy. And this is not to put down Bob at all. Bob
is a very complete guy as a producer and as a
songwriter. But Roy Z is a metalhead. Hes a
metalhead. And thats the important connec-
tion. He has such a grasp of everything that
Ive done, everything that Im about, that that
was an important part of the chemistry. So Im
not discounting the fact that I might do some-
thing again with Bob in the future, because he
wrote Silent Screams with me and he is also
instrumental in some of the other areas of
some of the songs that were embellished by
Roy and Pat and Mike. So hes a great contrib-
utor to the record. But I needed Roy Z as a
producer because of his metal understanding
and his comprehension of what we were trying
to do here.
On top of being a metalhead, Roy is also a
virtuoso guitarist, known for his helmsman-
ship of Latin rock band Tribe of Gypsies, as
well as axeman for Bruce Dickinson. Surely
there must be uncredited Roy Z performances
on Resurrection . . .
No. Oh, tell a lie, tell a lie. I think theres
one. He does a little bit of a lead break on
Drive. I was just scratch vocaling. I got that riff
and I played it for weeks and I said, God, Roy, I
cant figure out what to fucking say. And Im in
the TV room of the studio while were doing
some rough pre-production, and Ive got the
boom box and hes in the corner making coffee,
and then I started singing. And he goes What
are you singing? I dont know. Because I do
this all the time spontaneously, subcon-
sciously. And he says Youre singing something
. . . whats it about, wheels? Got you under my
wheels? And I said I think Im singing Got
you under my wheels, baby; thats where you
belong. And he said, Thats it then. We had
the title, Drive. And he said, Lets go with that.
And I think because it was one of the last tracks
we had done, we werent sure we were going to
use it. We didnt have a lead break section for it.
So Roy does the lead on Drive, and I think
thats it. Everything else is Pat and Mike.
Drive is just one of a relentless batch of
pure metal rockers all over this album, even if
its stutter gallop makes it one of the more
casual tracks. One complaint thats possible to
level at Resurrection is that its a bit slick and
safe, sort of too self-aware, just like Heaven and
Hell and Mob Rules versus the Ozzy stuff pre-
ceding them. And Rob fully admits to an I am
what I am moment, a point that could prompt
a lyric like Resurrection bring me home,
home meaning an area where one can be com-
fortable and not take chances.
It came out of the live shows with Two in
Switzerland. I was coming offstage and I was
thinking, This just isnt right. I dont feel like I
know how I want to feel. I want to come off-
stage mentally and physically depleted. I want
to feel that certain way. And I wasnt getting
that from the Two stuff. And Im not dissing
the Two record. It just wasnt happening for me
live. So I went back to the States and then
spoke to Bob and I said, Look, this is whats
been going on and this is what I want to do.
And he said, Lets start writing. So we did, and
this is where all the best things happen for me
this is the first time Ive
walked up to the mic and said,
Im digging deep inside my
soulto bring myself out of
this goddamned hole.
the germ of the album therefore is the Silent
Screams track. And I stuck that on the Internet
and everybody went ballistic. This is great,
Rob! Is this what youre going to do? Are you
coming on to metal? Yeah, this is it. This is
where all the best things happen for me. So I
worked with Bob for a few more weeks and at
the same time, I was building my friendship
with Roy Z and then the cutoff point came,
and I went from Bobs place to Roys place and
thats when we proceeded.
Rob called in a Priest gun from the past in
songwriter-to-the-stars Bob Halligan Jr. The
result is one of the albums most melodic but
also most memorable tracks, Twist, which,
with Slow Down and Temptation, adds
welcome shape, depth and commercial appeal
to an otherwise balls-out record.
Isnt that a great song? says Rob about
Twist and its gorgeous chorus. Very sponta-
neous. I was doing a lot of research and I
thought I wonder what Bob Halligan is doing
these days? So I got his number and called him
up. Hes living in Nashville, Tennessee. I said
What are you doing in Nashville? and he said,
This is where I live now; Ive got the family
and kids and everything. And he said he was
doing all this kind of folky, new age stuff. And
I said, Youre doing what?! And he said he had
been doing it for years. And he said, What are
you up to? And I said Well, Im doing a new
metal record can you still write rock n
roll? And he said, Yeah, sure I can! And I said,
Write me a tune. So I left him to it and then
about a week later he calls me up and says, Oh,
Im so excited. Ive got this ten-year-old son
and hes right into metal and he said, Dad,
thats the kind of stuff you need to play
[laughs]. And he played it to me down the
phone, and I said, Bob, thats a really good
song; just work on it a little more for me. And
a couple of weeks later it was done. Bob was the
only guy that I thought about because he wrote
those great songs (Take These) Chains and
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll hes worked
with Blue yster Cult also. Great songwriting.
Twist is a really cool song.
Im talking about a lot of personal stuff,
directly, which Ive never done before, notes
Rob, addressing Resurrections lyrical positions.
Ive always used language in a kind of an
ambiguous way, using innuendo or smokescreen
language in my metal stuff over the years. But
this is the first time Ive walked up to the mic and
said, Im digging deep inside my soul to bring
myself out of this goddamned hole. Thats pretty
brutal, life-is-on-the-line stuff. So that was a
challenge. Roy Z said, What are you going to
write about? And I said, Z, I dont know. Ive got
to find something to say. So he said, Just tell
them about whats been going on in your life.
And I go, Its as easy as that?! And he said, Yeah,
its as easy as that. And he got it right. So Resur-
rection and the biographical Made in Hell,
Locked and Loaded, Silent Screams, Cyber-
world, Drive . . . all of these things are things
this is where all the best things happen for me
Fin Costello/Redferns
that have happened to me, directly. Its a very
personal record from a lyrical aspect.
Prodded to get even more personal, Rob
opens the door a bit on the state of his love life.
Its no different than anybody elses. I mean,
gay people have the same kinds of ups and
downs as everybody else. We have our good
times and we have our bad. Its exactly the
same as everybodys walks of life. I think by
nature, Im a loner, a lone wolf. I always have
been. A lot of musicians are that way. Its not a
selfish streak, but its something close to a
selfish streak. The only marriage we have is
with our music. Its great to have somebody in
your life as a partner, but what we do is so
unusual and it demands such an intense part of
your life emotionally and psychologically, its
tough. Its really tough to have an ongoing rela-
tionship. So I havent had that many long
relationships, and it isnt something I
encourage myself to look for.
Indeed Rob has hinted elsewhere about tur-
moil and dissatisfaction at how things have
gone with respect to his love life. Quipping that
love is Gods trick, he has also said that hes
had a fair share of being used, such as through
heterosexual and even married men walking
on the wild side so to speak, but not being all
that sincere or open about their intentions.
Hes also lamented that living in this manly
metal world, his gaydar hardly ever went off.
Furthermore, hes said his sexual activity has
waned somewhat as he gets older, and that he
really wouldnt mind fathering a child someday
before this whole strange trip is over.
But as with many A-type personalities,
career provides solace. I dont really feel like
Ive lost out or have missed out on anything
because my main relationship is with my
music. Thats the thing that keeps me going,
and I strive with it. Plus, Im an extremely pos-
sessive person. And Im a smotherer. I smother
people to death, and thats not a very cool char-
acteristic that Im happy with myself about.
But I recognize thats who I am, and I try to
work on those things. So I try not to get too
much into peoples faces, but Im a demanding
person. I expect people to do 100 percent for
me. And if they dont do 100 percent I get very
fucking pissed off. I see things in a very simple,
logical way. I dont understand how people
have problems with things that need to be
done. I dont like stupid things that go wrong.
If you are with me, then I expect you to know
what to do. Thats just my character. Im very
forceful about everything revolving around my
music and I demand the best.
This must make being in the studio with
Halford a scary proposition. No, laughs Rob.
Im dead easygoing. But if you make the
slightest fuck-up, I have a really short temper.
And if you get one of my looks [laughs] . . . I
only have to look at people and they go, Oh
fuck and thats enough. But Im pretty reason-
able in the studio. I do have my prima donna
moments, but they are directed at myself. If I
cant get right what I have to get right, I get
really pissed off at myself. Because I cant
understand that all these years later, why I
cant get a note right? I hear the playback and I
go, That fucking sucks; why cant I do it?
Thats why I have people like Roy Z going,
Calm down, Rob, youll get it, take it easy, it
will all work out. Thats just another fault of
mine. But thats directed at me. But yeah, Ive
got an ego. Ive got what I feel is an important,
positive ego. Im OK with people as long as they
do what needs to be done. And I think thats
the minimum you can ask of this environment,
because there are a lot of responsibilities
involved. I dont like to let people down, and I
like to give them the best.
No rituals or environment enhancements
in the studio for the Metal God, either. No,
nothing. Id go in there and Roy Z would say,
Do you want me to turn the lights down?
and Id say, No, if you turn the lights down, I
wont be able to see my lyrics. Do you want
any josh sticks? No, I just go up to the mic
and I put my headphones on, and I close my
eyes and I sing. All I have to do is close my
eyes and thats it for me.
With respect to assembling the Halford
band (the aforementioned Patrick Lachman
and Metal Mike on guitars, Ray Riendeau from
Two on bass, and Riot technician Bobby Jar-
zombek on drums), Rob notes I do screen
them through some other people first, because
there is just too much for me to wade through.
But once done, I wanted it understood from
the get-go, that this isnt just a one-off deal.
Just because its Halford, I dont want people to
say, And this year Halford has so-and-so on
guitar and so-and-so on drums. I want them
to stick with me because this is great. It sounds
good, we play well, were good mates, weve got
a lot more work to do, lets stay together. And
on that understanding, thats it.
Of the audition process for Halford, Rob
says, It wasnt that many, because I was
looking for the cream of the crop, maybe 12,
15. They were all from America, apart from
Mike, who is from Poland originally, and now
lives in New Jersey. Even though my base of
operation . . . where I live and everything else
comes out of London, with the Rod Small-
wood group, I spend time between homes in
California, the U.K., and Amsterdam. I dont
know what it is, but I just feel better in this part
of the world, North America, just circumstan-
tially. So thats what I did, just looked for the
best, and when I heard Mike and these guys, I
said it feels right, pay attention to what they are
doing, and they have the look, because I had
videotapes, lets get them on the phone, lets
have lunch, lets talk, lets make sure nobody is
sticking needles in their arms or doing stupid
things like that. And once we got all that
sorted, it was, Lets go guys, lets start writing,
see what happens. And the music just flowed;
it just poured out.
What I did was, before I actually said lets
get together and this is the day we start writing,
I said, Look at what youve got. If theres any-
thing you want to bring in that youve got,
bring it in. But what Id like you to do is start
fresh, put a new head on, were making a metal
album. You know who I am, you know where
Im from, dont be worried about looking at
everything that Ive done and picking up a
this is where all the best things happen for me
guitar and playing a riff. You play me a riff that
youve always wanted to play for Rob Halford.
And so when we came and sat down to write,
they brought a good chunk of stuff. Having
said that, everything that weve got, to the best
of my knowledge, is fresh, its brand new. At the
end of each session, Pat would go back home,
and Mike would go back to his hotel room, and
they would just keep playing all night and they
would come in the next day and say This is
what I came up with at three oclock this
morning, and we patched it all together.
It was basically Rob, affirms guitarist
Metal Mike, on Halfords choices for band-
mates. His manager John Baxter found the
best he could and then he gave that to Rob. Rob
listened to everybody and he said, These are
the guys we should bring. And this took prob-
ably over two years; it wasnt easy. You have not
only the changing of styles . . . even when
myself and Halford hooked up, they already
knew they wanted to go metal, back to Robs
world. Rob was ready to go back to metal.
There were a lot of guys sending all kinds of
nonsense in and most of that didnt even pass
Johns hands. And the best guys ended up being
in the Halford band.
Roy Z spoke of his involvement in the record
in early January of 2000, indicating that by that
point, drums were done, overdubs were in
progress, and mixing had been slated for Feb-
ruary and March. On some of it Ive provided
full songs, but most of the time if I hear some-
thing Ill lend a bit here and there, do
arrangements. Basically Im just kind of steering
the whole thing, making sure its what it needs
to be, you know? So its kind of like Im
arranging and Halford is letting me steer the
ship. Im basically your utility guy. Wherever
you need me to go, Ill go. The music we are
coming up with for the most part sounds like
classic Halford-era Priest. Theres a little bit of
his newer stuff in there, a little bit from the
Painkiller era, and a very little bit of the Fight
stuff, but that is the stuff I am trying to avoid,
myself. Im just steering the whole thing towards
the killer classic stuff. There are a couple a kind
of ballady things, one that has the same ele-
ments as Beyond the Realms of Death.
Contrasting working with Halford versus
working with Bruce Dickinson (who co-vocals
with Rob on The One You Love to Hate), Roy
says in a general sense, they are similar. But
they each have individual characteristics that
makes them who they are. But its the same
type of mindset. You have to basically be ready,
Ross Halfin/Idols
because they are old pros. Theyve got it down.
You have to constantly be on your toes. In
terms of workload, it depends what youre
going for. If you are going for a big, big tapestry
kind of thing like what we did with Chemical
Wedding where we were just coloring and
coloring and coloring sometimes you have
to take colors out and put another one in, and
that takes longer. Whereas with this, there is
less of that and just more straight-up metal.
My approach is that hey, I just want to make it
rock like Priest. There might be a little bit of
modern stuff in there, but if Im going to work
with Rob Halford, I want it to be metal, and I
want it to sound like what he is known for.
Im always trying cool studio stuff, and
whatever makes it to the final cut, who knows?
Im always trying all kinds of wacky ideas.
Artists humor me and let me try my little
things. I dont know what is actually going to
make it on the record. All along he had Bob
Marlette working with him, for the longest
time. And then I got involved after Bob, and
then there was talk of me working with Tom
Allom. And maybe Attie Bauw was going to get
in there too, the guy that did the Fight record.
But in the end, we did some demos together,
and decided that I was the right guy and I
could handle the job on my own.
Added Roy, with respect to the Halford/
Dickinson duet on The One You Love to
Hate, Theyre both here at the studio right
now, at the same time. You know that Bruce is a
champion for Halford and theyve been talking
quite a lot lately. Ive kind of made a bridge
there, and now they have a good relationship. I
had a hand and Bruce had a big hand in
bringing him into Sanctuary, and I guess hes
already firmed up tour dates with Maiden.
Indeed, Resurrection would emerge on
Sanctuarys short-lived metal imprint Metal Is,
with the band backing up Maiden inside a
package that would variously include stable-
mates Queensryche and Entombed as well.
You know, me and Bruce are so alike, mused
Rob of the tag team, which, at one point,
almost included Queensryches Geoff Tate for a
proposed project called the Three Tremors.
Weve both traveled such similar journeys and
I think we have, to some extent, similar person-
alities. Were both very outgoing and both very
direct and blunt and honest about the things
that we say and do. We both love what we do.
Were both very spontaneous and were always
looking at all the possibilities, looking at
exciting moments with respect to things that
have never been done before. Like, for
example, doing a duet for the first time ever.
And thats about it, really. Were friends and
this is where all the best things happen for me
Im sure well get even closer on this tour. I
admire him as a singer and as a songwriter and
a performer, and this is going to be a blast. And
of course with Geoff, this is a singers dream
come true to have Halford, Dickinson and Tate
under the same roof each night. And I love
Entombed also.
We even went so far as to taking pictures
and everything and having meetings, said
Rob, elaborating on the shelved Three Tremors
concept. And it was all on a full-on green light
situation, and then suddenly, everything
started to be kind of difficult, namely because
of the schedules involved. I know Bruce was
busy wanting to get into his next solo record,
because Maiden is taking some time off now.
Geoff is busy with some more Queensryche
material. I was straight into the studio fin-
ishing the work for the double live CD. And
literally, in a few days time, Im going into
rehearsal, so it was just a calendar conflict.
No writing was done, but there were just
discussions about what we would do together.
And I hope that when the time is right and
there is no conflict in each of our schedules, I
think we should get together and do some-
thing, because I think its going to be a great
moment. We all agreed that Roy Z would be
producing, and to some extent play with us
because Roy is a tremendous guitar player, and
thats about as far as we got. We certainly did
not want to put together an all-star lineup,
because we just wanted to keep the focus on
the three singers and just have a really solid
band to work with night after night. I think it
will be a great metal experience because the
things that we discussed and the way we would
have created the live moment would have been
very spectacular. I can only say that when the
time happens, it will be an amazing thing to
experience. To my mind, it was very much an
extension of what people saw with the Three
Tenors, basically taking that format and recre-
ating it in the metal world.
Metal Mike still officially with Halford,
but also with Painmuseum agrees with Rob
and Roy that the plan all along with Halford
was to capture a past sense of glory. It was cen-
tered around Roy Z bringing Screaming for
Vengeance and British Steel in. Rob doesnt
drink, but we were having a few brews and
listening to those saying, We want to do some-
thing like that; that would be cool. Check that
out, man! Weve got to go back there. How cool
is that?! And we just needed Rob to go back to
the headspace he was in with Priest. Because
again, there was that area of confusion with
Two. I cant talk too much about this, because I
wasnt there during that time. But the whole
Two thing I mean, what the fuck was that?! I
mean, this is not Rob Halford. I mean, its OK to
experiment but this is not the Rob Halford that
the fans want. So we were like, Rob, think about
Painkiller and what was going on. Yeah, this is
whats going on. And I was like, OK, this is how
Rob is feeling, and I would try to take that
feeling from Rob and put it into the guitar riffs.
Rob is funny, added Mike regarding Hal-
fords listening habits. Hes got all kinds of
stuff. He would have a Tool album, an old
Machine Head album. I would always bring
him a bunch of metal, like early Amon
Amarth; we would dig on that, In Flames, Soil-
work. Rob doesnt listen to old 80s CDs. Hes
always up on the cutting edge, discovering new
music. But at the same time, like any great
artist, we would go into a 99-cent store and buy
a Hulk Hogan CD and just laugh about it. So its
the ability to listen to anything.
I think that everybody involved had their
own song ideas, the way they wrote. Roy was
incredible, because Roy could take a riff that I
would bring that would sound like an old
school Loudness riff, which was . . . you know,
thats where I was coming from. I kind of grew
up on Loudness and Accept and I would bring
those kinds of things in. Because thats what
speaks metal to me. I love Carcass and I love
later Death records, so I had a little bit of that
stuff in there too. Pat wasnt about that. He was
very Pantera-influenced, more of a modern-
type feel, very concerned with what would be
cool, when people heard it. And I dont give a
fuck what people think is cool. I want to do
what I want to do. If people dont like it, per-
sonally, it could be Robs decision or Roys as
the producer. I understand my role in the
organization. But I would bring all kinds of
stuff to the table. I didnt care if I brought 100
songs. If one of them stays and its a great song,
then Ive done my job.
With regard to Bob Marlette, Mike figures, a
lot of stuff I hear that he does just sounds like
parts of other bands songs. I would get demos,
and it was like, Well, heres an Alice in Chains
part or, OK, this is from the Shout at the Devil
record. So I was like, whatever. I think thats
this is where all the best things happen for me
what happens when you become strictly a song-
writer to the stars, you know? You dont go out
there and pound beers with your friends down
on the streets and talk about some record. You
fucking go to a Billboard party and drink mar-
tinis and listen to a CD on the way home because
youve got no other time to do anything.
Theres no balls to it. Its just like, Four bars
of this; lets ProTools to four bars of that. And
wheres the song? If were talking about metal,
man . . . and I think thats what happens. If you
write songs for Celine Dion, I dont care what
you do, man, you can whistle the whole way
through. But it really pisses me off when people
are trying to write metal for metal icons,
whether its Rob or Alice Cooper. But again, I
must say that Silent Screams is a killer song; he
really brought that off. But Im sure he had
another guitar player do some of the parts. But
when people bring in stuff to metal with all
these bullshit parts and people just waiting for
a paycheck, it kind of pisses me off. Because I
didnt get into this to make money. I make
money because my heart is into it and it shows.
But you get all the studio sausages playing for
the dollar thats not what the scene is about.
Despite the sleek sound of Resurrection, a fair
bit of sound-searching took place. Says Mike,
Silver Cloud Studios, where we recorded, has
this roomful of crazy amps and gear, like Laneys
that belonged to Tony Iommi, and early 60s
Fenders, and we spent a lot of time tweaking the
sounds. We were like, Lets just get to it and play,
but looking back at those times, it did make a
difference and it was worth it. It taught us how to
be patient. But we didnt spend a ridiculous
amount of time on it. We spent a good amount
of time cutting drum tracks and, believe it or
not, Bobby recorded 25 songs for that record.
Theres another Halford record lying around in
some vault somewhere. The strongest stuff made
it, and there is stuff lying around that other
people might think is stronger or not, depending
on who wrote the song.
But youre right, sound-wise, Resurrection
is all quite uniform. There might be different
songs arrangement-wise, but the sounds were
pretty much the same. Once we got a good
guitar tone, we stuck with it throughout the
album and kind of colored it with some other
amps underneath it to bring out different
chorus parts.
Prompted for a bit of a psychological profile
of Halford, Mike explains, Rob and Ive
never heard anybody say anything else is a
gentleman. And hes incredible in that he lets
you do what youre supposed to do. He says, I
hired you as a guitar player you do what you
do. And then if hes not liking something in
your performance, hell speak with the pro-
ducer. But hes not going to take you into the
hallway and scream at you for playing the
wrong note. And thats just the way to do it
professionally and for everybody to do a great
album. He understands the process, obviously,
after so many records, so hes extremely
inspired to do this. And youll be presenting
him with the songs, and he gives you his full
attention. He wants to hear everything you
have to say, and makes you feel really good as a
musician when youre doing something so inti-
mate on a music level with a legend like Rob.
Which makes you want to do the best job you
can. And Rob is very supportive. I would do
my crazy guitar solos and Rob would just stand
behind me, and I would look around and hed
be laughing on the couch. Its like, Youve got
to stop playing like that, Metal Mike. And then
wed go out and eat something. But I really,
really enjoyed it. I loved everything that was
going on, but I didnt really appreciate to the
fullest, as I can now, after seeing other musical
situations and how they take. The Halford
thing was, so far, the most all-around profes-
sional thing Ive ever been a part of.
Rob really likes the writing process, con-
tinues Mike. I think its actually his most
favorite part, that initial spark of interest where
you go, Yeah, yeah, do that riff again! Some-
times we would sit down and do songs and
Rob would say, No, no, turn that riff around.
Play that thing backwards. Six times. All right,
thats it! And hell take a CD of it and work
with it on his own time. And nobody will really
know what the lyrics are, until we go, Well,
this is where all the best things happen for me
Rob, are you happy with the songs structure?
And hell say Yep, thats what I need. And hell
just come in really focused with his computer
notebook and say, All right, this is what it has
to be. He needs to work on his own time. You
can see it on the record Rob has the ability
to do incredible lyric work. And when he sings,
everybody listens.
You could feel the excitement around the
Halford band out on the tour trail. The
amount of press the band drew had to be three
times the Two situation, the album had sold
respectably (as of February 02, about 60,000
copies), and onstage, the guys looked like a
feisty, combative unit, driving Priest fans to
delirium with tough-as-nails renditions of
deep album classics such as Stained Class.
The fact that they were a backup on a stadium
tour made it all the more interesting. Fans were
a potent combination of curious, respectful,
supportive and most importantly, on time,
filling the seats well in advance of Maiden
frankly, helping fill those seats for Maiden.
From the road in Europe, Rob expressed
gratitude for Resurrection winning the Brave
Words & Bloody Knuckles critics poll for top
album of 2000. Well first of all, Im thrilled
and honored to be given that kind of award. Its
a very satisfying feeling. Obviously there was
an enormous amount of effort and blood,
sweat and tears from everybody involved in
making Resurrection. . . . I accept this not only
for myself but for Pat and Mike and Ray and
Bobby and Roy Z and everybody else whos
been a part of making the whole thing a huge
success. And of course, Im in the company of
a lot of other great metal albums that have
come out this year. So Im very flattered and I
feel very, very cool about the whole thing. . . .
Its really nice when you get this kind of recog-
nition. Its just a nice feeling that not only have
you made a connection with the fans, but also
with people from that side of the business, the
critics, who obviously listen to an enormous
amount of material. And to choose me
amongst all of those others, its just a really
great feeling.
Theyre all very positive, adds Rob, accu-
rately summing up fan and critical response to
the record, while using an amusing amount of
time-honored Halford hyperbole arguably
appropriate to the record at hand. Weve been
going out, as you know, we kicked off playing
pretty much every piece of music off this
record. Each song still has enormous strength. I
will tell you that the major feedback we get
from the stage when were playing is definitely
the opening cut, and then Made in Hell and
Locked and Loaded. Cyberworld is a massive
hit here in Europe, and so is Nightfall. Silent
Screams is a track that gets a spectacular reac-
tion every single night we play it. So there isnt
really a moment on the record that Im not
feeling as strong about as I was before . . . We all
go through the kind of contemplative situation
after we finish recording. But with the time and
energy we spent on each song, we were able to
make a record with really strong tracks from
beginning to end. Those ones I mentioned are
particularly exciting, simply because of the
reaction they are creating. It was exciting to
start up in Canada, and I would love to come
back now. If I can get on a plane and come back
to play some Canadian dates, I would do that,
simply because we started off up there, and just
by the nature of the beast [laughs], you know,
this is where all the best things happen for me
bands grow, and theres an enormous amount
of confidence and mileage that has occurred
since those opening dates up in Toronto and
Montreal. All I can tell everybody up there is
what you experienced from those first few
moments of the Halford band, when we come
back, youll see a growth that is tenfold.
Were still doing Stained Class, continues
Halford, on the subject of the set list at this
point in the tour, essentially November of
2000. We did put Jawbreaker into the set,
which is kind of a surprise. Were still doing
Running Wild, Tyrant, Genocide, Breaking
the Law and Metal Gods. Weve been having
some pretty wild moments with Breaking the
Law. Since weve gotten to Europe, its like a
capella; the band plays it as an instrumental
and I just hold the mic out and its just sing-
along time with the Metal God. Its just terrific.
But weve been thinking about possibly
bringing in some other Priest material as we
progress through the European tour. Desert
Plains possibly, maybe Screaming for
Vengeance, possibly Devils Child. These are
things weve been throwing around hanging
out backstage. Because as I said before, every-
body in the band is such a huge Priest fan, and
everybody has such a big understanding of the
Priest music, we can literally go out and play
whatever we choose. But we want to try to keep
the set balanced and interesting with a real
hard edge. I know the guys have certain
favorites Pat and Mike, being guitar players,
have tracks they would like to get their teeth
stuck into.
All makes for a helluva live album, and
along it came, less than a year after their debut
album, Halford issuing Live Insurrection, an
explosive two-CD package stuffed with all sorts
of surprise gems.
It has a cool connection to the first Halford
studio release, Resurrection, says Rob about the
title, picked for what was even more of a Priest-
pointed album from Halfords tattooed
Judas-slayers. Also, insurrection implies cre-
ating a kind of rowdy and intense reaction to
what this band definitely does on the stages of
the world, so I just think its a great title to carry
people onto the next step. This is just a holding
pattern as we go on to the second studio release.
And for the cover, thats me onstage at Santiago,
Chile, and Im just standing there holding the
Chilean flag. Its a picture taken from the stage
out to the crowd, and its just a great metal
moment, a very unified moment of Halford
and those crazy metal maniacs.
In fact, the cover art was changed at the last
minute, after Halford decided the original idea
an empty hall, post-show, strewn with
garbage and beer bottles had no class.
Addressing the highly entertaining track
listing of the album 28 songs, obscurities
everywhere Halford says, I really think live
CDs are special, because for those of us who go
to the shows, we like to close our eyes and go
back again. And I wanted to make a live CD
that is going to be as potent and as strong and
as enjoyable this year as it will be five or ten
years from now. Because of the great legacy
and heritage of metal that Ive been involved
with for 30 years, its important for me to
make something that lasts. And I feel that this
particular live metal CD is one that will stand
the test of time and people can play over and
over again.
I love this CD because of the way it leaves
you feeling. By the end of it, if youve got the
metal guts to sit down and listen to it from
start to finish, it leaves you mentally and emo-
tionally drained, because it just takes you
everywhere in life. Its got great balance and
great continuity and flow and it really is a won-
derful metal journey, because you are literally
going with me through almost 30 years of my
life and my music.
I look forward to every single show I do
with the guys in the Halford band. Because I
know that they have the same love for metal
that I have, and that they want to give every-
thing they can give at that particular moment
that they walk out onstage, again, the same way
I do. And now I just feel weve been together
for longer than two years; weve just bonded so
deeply, musically and personally that its
just a great feeling to be in the company of
these guys, not only as great musicians, but as
good close friends. And of course, because Ive
been in the metal world now for 30 years this
March, Ive seen and experienced so much in
metal, that it takes a lot to get me fired up, in
the respect that its very easy to get jaded and
cynical in the rock n roll business. I need to
work with people who are hungry and ambi-
tious and have all the right attitudes in place,
musically and personally, and thats what the
guys in the Halford band have got and do for
me night after night.
Renditions on the live spread are faithful to
the originals, without too much sloppiness
either, to the point where the band got some
stick for alleged deep doctoring of the original
this is where all the best things happen for me
if youve got the metal guts to
sit down and listen to it from
start to finish, it leaves you
mentally and emotionally
drained, because it just takes
you everywhere in life.
Ive always been conservative when it
comes to making rearrangements of songs,
explains Rob. Because as a listener of other
peoples music, I like to hear what I expect.
However, Light Comes out of Black is a track
that from a vocal point of view, I totally
reworked, only in the respect that I sung it in a
much higher octave. I believe I did that also
with Sad Wings. But the rest I wanted to keep
as close to the real thing as possible. I get frus-
trated and a little bit pissed off when I hear one
of my favorite songs reworked. I think if you
remix something, and you rearrange it and its
released in that respect, thats all well and done,
approachable and appreciable. But Im a
stickler for leaving good things as they are. One
of my mottos is, If it aint broke, dont fix it.
The duet with Bruce Dickinson is quite
unique, because to the best of my knowledge,
we only played that song once in concert live,
and that was with Bruce. Because I obviously
felt that the only way I thought that would
work is singing it with Bruce. So thats what we
did that day in London. And while we were in
Japan, I think we threw in Light Comes out of
Black and Sad Wings of Destiny and Hells
Last Survivor. Those two tracks particularly, I
think we only played a couple of times in
Japan, because the Japanese had those two
tracks on their release.
Tacked on the end of Live Insurrection is a
trio of studio tracks, two old (and churlish)
Priest rarities redone Prisoner of Your
Eyes and Heart of a Lion plus something
a bit more tantalizing, a new Halford track,
Screaming in the Dark.
Says Rob, The great thing about the Hal-
ford band is that we made a pledge at the
beginning of this whole experience to work
together and stay together as long as we felt that
we could make this great music. So the first
experiences we had writing and recording the
first record, and then into the touring cycle,
were just the first openings of what we hope is
going to be a long trek. So its the same people
on those songs. Screaming in the Dark is a
little metal morsel for the direction that we
intend to go in on the next studio release. Were
really going to turn it up a notch, get more
fierce and more intense. Both of the Priest
tracks are kind of interesting. Ive always liked
these two songs and wondered whether I would
get an opportunity to cover them with this
band. And it was only after the experience of
being together for two years now that I thought
it would be interesting to see our interpretation
of these two songs. The songs have never been
recorded or released until this moment. They
are both from the mid-80s Heart of a Lion
was covered by Racer X. And I thought I would
just wait until the right moment to rework
those songs with a stronger approach.
We did them in Silver Cloud Studios, in
Burbank, in L.A. We laid down the bulk of the
recordings in the Sanctuary Studios in
London, and we just did a few overdubs in
Silver Cloud. We were out on the road working
in Europe doing headlining dates and also
working with Maiden, and we just found our-
selves in the Sanctuary offices one day, and we
just came up with the idea of doing these two
tracks, including Screaming in the Dark, and
the studio was free and we just ran in there and
literally put the songs down in an afternoon.
We recorded practically every show we did
on the world tour, continues Rob, moving on
to the construction of the live album. We took
ADATs with us, and when it actually came to
going through the shows to pick the great
moments that . . . was a real labor of love. This
band delivers night after night in a live format,
so it was a hard choice to say this one track was
a better performance than this other perform-
ance. I listened to every one of the shows that
we played on the Resurrection tour, but I didnt
want to give away the identity of the venue or
location that each song came from. What weve
done is given everybody a taste from all around
the world. All I will say is that there are cuts on
this double live CD that are from America,
Europe and Japan. And Ive done that simply
because I feel that the metal community is so
well connected globally, that were just thrilled
to be able to go onstage anywhere in the world
and have that contact.
Fight gets revisited as well, with Halford
renditions of Into the Pit, Nailed to the
Gun and Life in Black. This band has an
extraordinary opportunity to go out and play a
vast cross section of catalog that Ive recorded
over the years. So we can step from place to
place. One minute were in our own world, and
then the other minute were into the world of
Priest, and then the world of Fight, and at one
point, we step into the world of Scorpions
because we do a cover of Blackout thats
exclusive to the Japanese release. And the
bonus, of course, is the one new studio track
this is where all the best things happen for me
which leads you into the next Halford studio
CD. And as well you get the rare Priest songs.
And the seismic heavy metal events dont
stop there as mentioned, Resurrections
Japanese bonus tracks are nestled within the
live set, here for the curious to discover. I sup-
pose Hells Last Survivor is just my
interpretation of my attitude toward surviving
in rock n roll, that there are many pitfalls and
bad things that happen to you. Its a tough
place to be and you have to be resilient and
work hard to stay on course. Lyrically, thats the
direction. Sad Wings is just a reflection on my
past, all the great moments with Priest, won-
dering about the things I did then, wondering
about the things that are happening now with
Priest. Its just an observation of my moments
with that great metal band. The music is
extremely powerful, with a lot of energy and
fire in the attack and the attitude.
Still, as much as people enjoy the album, a
discussion of it has always included quips and
jabs about its heavily doctored feel, Rob not
able to shake the shackles of all that Unleashed
in the Studio chatter. Admits Mike, A lot of
stuff was from live takes, obviously. We went
into the studio and overdubbed things here
and there, as in every record. Its the commit-
ment to the quality of it. Were not going to
release something that sounds like shit and
charge people money for it. Saying this is live,
its the way its meant to be, that just means
that the band didnt have a budget for it
[laughs]. So there were some things that were
fixed, because we were already recording the
bonus studio tracks. Some things were done in
rehearsal, like The One You Love to Hate, with
Bruce. We recorded that in London, during
soundchecks and just used those takes. The
thing is, we used the same amps throughout
the whole entire tour and the same guitars, so
the sound didnt change from show to show as
drastically. And everything was recorded. I
dont know, man, how much money was spent
on all the ADATs and tapes and ProTools sys-
tems, because every show was recorded. So
yeah, some stuff was fixed in the studio here
and there. But it wasnt something that was just
done from scratch, thats for sure.
At this point, Robs relationship with the
Priest guys seemed to be somewhat thawing.
Its stupid, sighs Rob, reflecting on his closing
the door of communication after that fateful
day in Toronto. I dont know what it is. Have
you ever been in a thing where youve had a
fight with someone and you didnt speak with
them for weeks? Ill tell you what it is about
that. If you have a best friend, like I have with
Ken and Glenn and Ian . . . when I spoke to
Its delicate between Ken and
Glenn and Ian and me, and
there is no talk about
reunions or anything.Were
just slowly patching together
our relationship.
them, like over a year ago now it was just as
though it was yesterday. So time is immaterial.
I mean you might dwell on it and go, Look at
all this fucking time weve lost. But you cant
look at it that way. What you look at this now,
and next . . . whatever is whats going to be next.
Its delicate between Ken and Glenn and Ian
and me, and there is no talk about reunions or
anything. Were just slowly patching together
our relationship and well see where it takes us
from that point on.
It was up to me to fix, because I screwed up
in the first place, admitted Rob. So I wrote
them a very personal private letter, and it
opened the key to us talking to each other
again. Im very happy that thats happened and
we are at least able to pick up the phone and
casually hang out with each other when Im in
England. So the friendships being rebuilt and
thats wonderful because theyre like brothers
to me. I spent 20 years of my life with them,
and Im happy to say were on speaking terms
and it feels really good.
Rob added that at this point, he still had not
listened to Jugulator, keeping a promise he had
made to himself when the record was issued.
Yes, oh what is up with me?! Shouldnt I listen
to it while Im in Toronto and get all that clutter
out of the way? There is just something about
Toronto that is in me things happen here.
Its just too difficult for me to listen to the
band when Im not in it, mused Rob, and
thats nothing to do with taking a shot at
Ripper. Im grateful that he is in the band
because hes keeping the band alive. But I just
cant listen to it. Its just psychological. I should
just put it on and listen to the fucking thing,
but then if I do, people will say, Well, have you
heard it? And Ill go yeah, and then youll go,
What do you think? And I dont want to do
that. I dont want to be put in that situation. I
just love all the things that Ive done with the
band and Im happy to be a part of that great
legacy, and thats all. You want to treat it with
respect, because thats what it deserves.
Define strange, laughs Rob when asked
about strange tales from the road, gifts prof-
fered perhaps. It doesnt matter, wherever I go
in the world, people are kind enough and fun
enough to give me gifts and objects that are
part of my past and what Im doing now. At
one point Ill have to open up an S&M leather
shop [laughs] if I get any more whips and
chains Im running out of space here. But
Ive got a vast collection of all of those toys and
accoutrements. Its a fun thing and it always
makes me smile, and they always get put to
good use as well [laughs]. We had some of the
most bizarre things thrown onstage, from
snakes and various other dead animals to
sneakers. But all Ill say about todays genera-
tion, theyre less inventive than when I was
with Priest, particularly in the 80s.
The presentation of the Halford show also
involved some unscripted moments. It always
seems that, no matter where you go in the
world, theres always a point when the genera-
tors are going to blow, or the fuses are going to
go, and you crash into the first song and ten
seconds later everything goes off. Its ironic
this is where all the best things happen for me
that on the very last show that we did on this
Resurrection tour, which was at the Rock in Rio
festival in front of half a million people, we
used an intro track from a great movie that I
love called Gladiator. And its pretty much the
same for a lot of bands when you use an intro
tape the lights go down, and the crowd
begins to roar and the intro tape starts. Well,
we use a CD, and for the first time ever in these
dates, the CD decided to skip. Now, I have a very
short fuse when it comes to things like that.
You know, Im one of these guys that can
handle a plane crash, but if someone leaves the
top of the toothpaste off, I go all ballistic. So I
was just literally venting and going crazy on the
side of the stage because this track was skip-
ping like a CD skips. It was just so ironic that of
all of the dates that we could have had a tech-
nical problem, it would be on the last date and
at one of the biggest shows Ive ever played in
my life it was certainly the biggest show that
Ray and Bobby and Pat had ever played. But
you just bite your lip and you just walk on
there as if nothings happened. And of course,
theres also been the odd moment on the last
tour where we walk out and I go into the first
line of Resurrection and my mic hasnt been
switched on. And thats a bit like being
whacked on the back of the head with a base-
ball bat. Because those first few moments
coming down onstage are pretty intense. I walk
out there so psyched up and focused, that
when your mic doesnt work, its a bit like
walking into the ring with Mike Tyson and
youre not wearing boxing gloves.
And actually, in Europe, when the PA broke
once, it turned out that everything went down
except Mikes stack and Mike proceeded to
Ross Halfin/Idols
have his little Hendrix-esque moment, trying
to entertain the crowd with as many notes that
he can throw into a riff as possible. You just
kind of have to bite the bullet and hope that
people are working frantically to try and fix the
problem. Anything can happen, but you try
not to think about the consequences. You try
and stay focused on what youre doing.
And sometimes the Metal God himself is to
blame. Oh yes, Ill be singing a song and Ill
sing the same verse twice or Ill stumble and
bumble over my lyrics. I kind of think thats
cool, because when mistakes happen onstage, it
shows that youre human. And it takes away
that sterile night-after-night feeling that you
dont want. You want it to be spontaneous. You
want it to be chaotic. You want control of the
songs, but thats the magic of five people
working together at that moment literally
anything can happen. So theres always that
kind of edgy rock n roll nervousness as you go
out and play. The thing about me is that when
Imonstage Imnever that comfortable because
I never know whats going to happen next.
Oh, weve been through the rigors of
that, adds Halford, with respect to the pranks
and pratfalls on the road to rock, going into
each others hotel rooms and turning the fur-
niture upside down, people getting wrapped
up in gaffers tape. Again, its just part of what
you do in rock n roll to let off steam. The
video cameras and the digital cameras are
always out at the crazy moments. Theres a lot
of infamy that goes on on the tour buses of the
Halford band, just like any other band. Its
those kind of moments you can only get when
you pay $30 a month at the XXX sites on the
worldwide web [laughs].
Thats the great thing about touring; you
really dont know whats going to happen one
day to the next. We recently came back from
Japan, and the Japanese, just by their nature,
are very special, very unique in the way they
behave and the way they react to the music. I
was in a local restaurant around the corner
from the hotel that we were staying at in Tokyo.
We had finished the show, and I went to have
kind of a late-night snack and sat down and I
was eating my meal. And I noticed that there
were three or four people in the corner that
had obviously been to the show and were kind
and considerate enough to wait until I was fin-
ished eating to come over. But they came over
all excited, and then there was a couple with a
baby and they insisted that I sign the baby.
Now, Ive held babies, Ive had my pictures
taken with babies [laughs], but this is the first
time I actually signed one. I mean, I didnt
actually physically sign it on the head or any-
thing, but I had signed the T-shirt and the little
pants that it was wearing, and we took pictures.
Actually also in Japan, theres this guy that
shows up at every single performance. I mean
hes been coming to see me since I started to
work in Japan with Priest. And hes a Japanese
Rob Halford clone. He just wears the same
stuff that I wear, and he copies the outfits and
the movements, and hes usually in the front
row and its a trip, an honor to have that done
for you, but its also amusing.
this is where all the best things happen for me
True to Robs word about keeping the band
together, Halford came back vital and 100 per-
cent intact for a new record in 2002 called
Crucible. This was a band, and the band was
good, the band was snarling and serious.
From the vantage point of the road, the
direction of Crucible nonetheless seemed to be
forming in Robs mind as a record that should
be afforded a level of risk. I see getting a bit
more adventurous in terms of where were
going to take this instrumentally, again just by
the dimension of the band growing in these
last few months, he noted. But I still want to
focus on really heavy riffs, and I still want to
focus on really strong melodic vocal work. Ill
still be doing all my searching and researching
for lots of cool things to sing about. So I think
it will be an extension of Resurrection, but it
will have an advanced feeling attached to it.
True to that statement, Crucible turned out
to be a thoughtful, dark album, a weirdly
doomy and doomed album in much the same
tidy, encapsulated way A Small Deadly Space
related to War of Words. And critical reaction
was much the same as well Crucible went
over heads. Fans and scribes and everybody
was either mildly critical or cautiously on
board, venturing that a little more time with
the record should have them getting it . . . just
you wait and see.
You know, 21 CDs later, what are you trying
to say? pondered Rob, beginning a bit of a
treatise on Crucibles lyrical direction, one that
matches the leaden mood of the record per-
fectly. I mean, I sit there with sheets of blank
paper, and a bunch of pens and a bunch of dic-
tionaries and rhyming dictionaries and Rogets
Thesaurus and think, What do I do? Resurrec-
tion was OK because it was just from the inside.
What we did this time was we collected loads
and loads of newspapers, almost a years worth
of newspaper headlines and clippings and
things for inspiration. So all of these songs
really are about what I see going on around me.
Crucible is my take on the way religion is used
and manipulated in all walks of life. One Will
is a great song, and was inspired by watching
basketball, which I love. And I wanted to try get
this sporting anthemic song, you know, One in
victory, one in misery, one will take it all.
Handing out Bullets is about the Middle East.
Wrath of Gods is about New York City,
September 11, which I never thought I would
do, because to try and talk about that horrible
incident with some respect was something you
just cant do. It just happened. The inspira-
tional moment for me was when they did the
six-month-to-the-day memorial with the two
lights. I saw all that, and my head just went off
and that was my idea. The opening line, Twin
swords of laser lights blast from the earth . . .
thats what that is, and then Im going on about
everything else. Crystal is about crystal
methamphetamine addiction. Hearts of Dark-
ness is about any incident where bands are
targeted by groups for supposedly doing things
they didnt do, whether its Reno or whatever.
Trail of Tears is about living in San Diego and
seeing people coming across the border from
walking through the mountains and dying, or
getting on rusty old ships in the former Czech
Republic and sinking in the Greek Strait. The
way people risk their lives for freedom and a
better life is just terrible.
Speaking like this, it all sounds incredibly
heavy and doom-laden, but the wonderful
thing about metal is that you can use language;
the words that we use can bring a message and
an idea without it being literal. When you
listen to Trail of Tears, thats probably the fur-
thest thing away from your mind; you know,
what is this about God will look after you but
he wont save you what does that mean?
When you actually talk about it in terms of
where it was coming from myself it
makes sense. So that was it; once Roy and I got
the plot to just talk about what we see in the
world, it was off and running. But it was still a
challenge as much as it ever was.
Looking back on this interesting period
within the life of the band Rob said, I think
Crucible just reinforced our ideals and our
intent, and just showed the great diversity and
musicianship that exists in the Halford band.
And as much as Ive always tried to do with
everything that Ive been a part of in the
recording world, to not be repetitive and to
show growth and depth, Resurrection was a
great relaunch for me back into the world of
metal, in a pure sense, and it was greatly
received worldwide, obviously. Beyond that, we
were determined to follow up with something
this is where all the best things happen for me
that was stronger and a little bit more adven-
turous in some instances . . . elaborate
musically. And I think we achieved that. We set
ourselves on a course that we kept to. And it
was really welcomed. Obviously your second
release is important and valuable; it just sends
out a strong message about where youre at and
what youre doing. And this is exactly what
Crucible did for us.
I think you attach the same sort of men-
tality to whatever you do, which is that youre
giving 200 percent at any moment. I dont
think, in all of the things that Ive been a part
of, I dont have something hanging over my
shoulder, looking over and breathing down
my neck saying, This better be as good as the
last one. I dont think thats a useful climate to
work in. I think you just really need to con-
tinue to try to do the best you can. This being
my 20-something release, the challenge is
trying to be fresh and saying something
strong and maybe a little bit different. And of
course Im able to do that with this band
because of the great talent in it. The musi-
cianship Im surrounded with is always a
great thing for me to define my inspiration
from. So when Im in a room jamming with
Mike, when hes coming up with riffs and
ideas and things are cranking up, or Bobby is
laying down some incredible drumbeats,
thats where the fire starts, you know? And
that Crucible trip was great because it made
me feel confident about the potential of a
third studio release.
Resurrection there was a lot of excite-
ment around that album, adds Mike. Rob was
really excited to go back into metal again.
Everybody in the band was very excited to be
there, because it was the biggest thing that any
one of us had ever done. Roy was really excited
to produce it, and we were just rolling with the
songs, man. We were just killer. It was an
incredible record to make. It wasnt an easy
album to make, because it had to be a partic-
ular style of record for the fans to like it. And it
was probably one of the most important
records in Robs career. And it was a lot of fun.
And we went on the entire world tour and we
made it. We sold a shitload of records.
And then what happens . . . its just your
typical sophomore record. People start
thinking, people start crunching numbers and
looking at radio and looking at what their sis-
ters are listening to, what clothes people were
wearing on the street, and there was a little
confusion, I think. Rob came up with great
lyrical content and I think the band really
grew musically for it. But the record wasnt as
focused as Resurrection. I would even say that
it was too quick of an involvement for the
band. The band grew up too quickly in front
of everybodys eyes. Anybody who came into
Halford was very gifted musically and talent-
wise, and the first album was incredible, but
everybody pulled back their playing abilities
to some point. Which was great in some ways;
it was a killer straight-ahead metal album.
Later on it was more like, Well, lets just show
how advanced the band is. And there was a lot
of stuff on there where maybe songwriting-
wise, there were good songs, but they didnt
blow you away in some instances.
I remember some Sanctuary guys coming
in and listening to it, says Mike, when asked
about label pressure. I dont like to get involved
in too much of the business thing. I want to
play guitar and thats what I do, and I did the
best record I could. Personally, I think the label
wouldve wanted a record closer to Resurrec-
tion. It took them a long time to understand
Crucible, and I dont even know if they under-
stand it fully right now. So yeah, there was some
pressure from Sanctuary to do that. Im not
even so sure that it wasnt pressure so that Rob
could have two solid releases so that they could
move Rob into Priest, you know? Imagine Rob
doing another record that just totally messes
up somebodys plan. Theyre like, Wait a
minute, this is not whats supposed to happen.
This is not the route that Bruce Dickinson took
before we put him back in Maiden. But Ill tell
you one thing: that Crucible record was a
blessing in disguise, because it showed the
world that the Halford band and Halford in
general has a lot of things to offer the fans. And
that gives life to the project, to everybody in the
group. It means that if the opportunity or if the
demand arises in a few years, we can do another
Halford record and not compete with the whole
Judas Priest ordeal.
There was a shitload of confusion before
we started, says Mike, on the subject of Cru-
cibles direction. We went to a couple writing
sessions at the Park Manor hotel, in San Diego,
and we were just pounding these super-hard
fast metal songs. And we would leave the hotel,
and Rob would be like, This is the greatest
shit. This is going to be like Resurrection a step
up. It makes me feel great. This is going to be
fucking killer. And you know, I dont know
what happened, man. Too many band meet-
ings in too many places. But by the time we
were recording the record, we only used two or
three songs from those sessions. And some-
times we felt we were getting too picky, too
artsy. I want to make a fucking metal record. I
dont want to be U2, you know? But still man,
there are some killer songs on there. But that
internal metallic feel you get when you hear a
riff with a drum behind it . . . more of that was
on Resurrection, I think.
Mike says the band bonded even more
during the construction of Crucible, even
spending a fair bit of time at Robs house,
which, he says, is pretty tastefully done. Its
good. I think any rock star would be proud of
it [laughs]. Rob is completely . . . we talked
about it sometimes. Rob doesnt give a shit
about anything like that, putting all the gold
records on the wall. Its just a body of work that
he does. I think like anybody, thats whats
important for him. Rob is not the gold
recordhanging, diamond ringwearing, Look
what Ive done guy. Rob told me crazy stories,
man. Him and I talked a lot throughout the
years. He told me crazy stuff, that he had had
Ferraris and all kinds of cars parked in his
driveway before, in America, when Priest broke
through, before he even knew how to drive! So
he was like, I had all this kind of shit, and its
this is where all the best things happen for me
not important to me anymore. And I think the
fan stuff is stored away. All the stuff is definitely
taken in and saved. I must say that Rob is a very
private person as well, and he likes to keep it
that way. When you see that many people, I
think personal time is that much more sacred.
Mike relates a few amusing tidbits from
those jaw sessions with Rob. He told me hilar-
ious stories from the beginning. K.K. used to
wear this big white hat, because he was very
Jimi Hendrixinfluenced. And in the early days
of Priest, they didnt have a lot of money for
effects. So they hired this guy who would burn
stuff on the side of the stage and fan the stuff
into the stage, to make smoke. Well, the guy
was like the biggest drug addict in the world, so
he would burn all this hashish and pot. So all
those guys were stoned onstage constantly, and
one time the whole thing went on fire, so he
took K.K.s white hat to try put it out, and the
thing burned. K.K. was pretty upset. Also,
because they didnt have any money, their
manager used to rig up the elevator because
they couldnt pay for telephone calls, and he
would ride up and down the elevator, using
this free telephone in there, booking gigs for
the band. Those guys were jokers back then.
They used to do all kinds of stuff.
Talk turns to Roy Z, and his effect on the
two Halford albums. I think the rule was for
him to come in and help us make a great
record, and help steer the band in the right
direction. Especially in the beginning, because
you had people from all over the United States
that had never played together before. And
they have to make a record. All we had was the
raw talent of wanting to make the best record
we could. Roy had an incredibly hard job,
probably like many producers out there . . .
And at the same time, Roy was the type of guy
who wants to make a great record. There are
only so many calls you can take from the label
or anybody else before youre like, You know,
this is not about that; this is about the music.
And just as Crucible seemed to have this
grey cloud hanging over its head, so did subse-
quent touring dates for the band. Crucible
proper tour dates went according to plan, but
later on, a touring package dubbed Metal Gods
started with much fanfare, only to be knocked
on its head due to poor ticket sales, or more
accurately, ticket numbers that couldnt sup-
port that much gear and personnel on the
road. It was a noble attempt at a sort of
smaller-venue Ozzfest, this idea that a bunch of
cutting edge metal acts could be put together
with a legendary personality as anchor store at
the metal mall, and then the whole combative,
tight little ball thrust into larger clubs to duke
it out for modern metal supremacy.
It was a pretty cool bill. Testament would
have served as bridge to the anchor that was
Halford, with the likes of Immortal, Amon
Amarth, Carnal Forge and Dark Tranquillity
serving as black- and death-metal boutiques
along the way. Metal Mike like Zakk and
Black Label Society at an Ozzfest would pull
double rock n roll duty, bringing Pain-
museum to the undercard as a bit of tough
thrash backwash. Adding irony was the job of
this is where all the best things happen for me
Mick Huston/Redferns
Primal Fear, providing many moments more
Priest-like than Halford did covering a classic.
Explained Rob in April of 03, as the tour
was wobbling toward life, With respect to the
lineup, some of it is going to be a bit flexible.
Theyll be people joining in and some people
will be moving on. Its basically going to be
six, seven acts at a go. The selection of bands
has basically been a discussion between
myself and management, John Baxter and
Thomas up at Universal in New York. Obvi-
ously theres an enormous amount of great
metal talent out there, and a lot of these
people that were working with are friends of
mine. And thats not to say that friends are
getting the best bet. What weve tried to do is
put together a bill thats probably about as
broad and diverse in metal as you can possibly
get. We wanted to show the diversity. When
you look at Halford, youll see something dif-
ferent than when you look at Immortal or
Primal Fear. Thats why we called it Metal
Gods. Its just a wave displaying the broadness
of metal. Its an unusual way of doing it,
versus just being fine-tuned on one style and
sound. Each of these bands has done such
tremendous work over the years and theyre
all leaders in their own genre of metal. So it
makes even more sense to bring them into
that heading of Metal Gods 2003.
To be honest, I only met Rob, like, twice
during the tour, because the tour got canceled,
lamented Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth,
recalling his brief brush with the Metal God.
But he seemed like a very nice guy, a bit . . . he
didnt really go out there very much, but he was
cool. The thing was, we did a tour for the
agency Universal Agency, I think theyre
called and we did a tour with Deicide in the
States. The agent told us that Rob Halfords
management had asked about us. I will let that
be, you know. Im not going to say that it was
that way, but thats what he explained to us. If
thats true, thats a brilliant, brilliant thing.
Because if the management asks about us, then
its probably Rob Halford who asked about us.
I think its a really cool thing. And Ive heard
from people saying that Rob really does have a
good eye on the metal scene in general. So it
wouldnt surprise me if it was that way. It was
really cool to be able to go on that tour. Its just
sad that it was badly managed from the agency
side. It would have been a great, great tour.
Well just basically tear it all apart and
rebuild it, projected Halford on changes to
come in the set list versus the Crucible dates
already covered. And as much as we are always
trying to, its a case of trying to cover as much
of my 30-plus years in metal and trying to give
everybody a little bit of a ride through the great
career that Ive had. Obviously Resurrection
and Made in Hell have become sort of rallying
calls, so those will probably go in the list. The
title track from Crucible obviously. Were
having great reaction to tracks like Heretic
and Heart of Darkness. Its going to be diffi-
cult, because as much as we like the songs and
weve been playing them out, theres always
that great quest, that great challenge of looking
for other ideas as well. The fact is, were going
to be the last band on in each of these Metal
Gods events, so we just want to go out there
and just tear it up and put together a really
exciting, versatile set list of great metal.
Another wrinkle in the leather was that Pat
Lachman was out as guitarist, replaced by Roy
Z. Yes, and its quite a simple moment,
explains Rob. In any new band, youre all hus-
tling and jostling for position, and youre all
going through different experiences musically
and emotionally. Pat had a great time with us
on those first two releases, but on the conclu-
sion of the trip last summer in Europe, he was
feeling unsettled and he wanted to stretch into
a different area, which of course hes done,
because now hes moved into the vocal world
and hes no longer playing guitar. You know, I
wish him well. Hes an incredibly talented guy
and I look forward to hearing what hes
coming up with next. Roy was terrific. Obvi-
ously with Pats departure, he left us in kind of
a confused state because Pat is a solid player in
the band. And Roy just stepped up and
showed great support and dedication to the
band. First of all, hes a great talent in pro-
ducing these two releases so well and
contributing musically. So it just seemed like a
natural thing to have happen when Roy came
forward and offered his work for these live
performances. And now it turns out that hes
just having so much fun hes obviously on
board for the Metal Gods 2003 tour.
Were all inspiring each other, says Rob,
getting back to the bands at hand. Thats what
we do; we feed off each others talents and we
feed off each others energy and power. And
thats pretty much been the creative source for a
lot of artistic endeavors. You look around and
you see things and you hear things, and it just
gets you motivated and it gets you fired up.
When I stand on the side of the stage and watch
these bands performing as we go along, it will
create the buzz that makes me want to go out
and do what I do as well as I can at that
moment. And I think thats just inherent in
what we do as musicians, and what it does for
the audience as well. So many musicians will tell
you, I saw you perform at this venue or at that
venue and you were the person that gave me the
impetus to want to pick up a guitar or mic or
just get involved in this great world of metal.
this is where all the best things happen for me
(Steamhammer/SPV, July 01)
Machine Man
One on One
Hell Is Home
Jekyll and Hyde
Close to You
Devil Digger
In Between
Feed on Me
Lost and Found
Metal Messiah
Five years fighting
our way back up
With Rob buzzing in headbanged ear-
drums with his gleaming Halford band,
Priest was still having its own troubles
trying to convince its fans that the band
was viable without the Metal God.
Entrenching, as Maiden did with its own
whipping boy, Blaze Bayley, Judas Priest
came up with a second album for its own
controversial configuration.
Pre-production, Ripper positioned the
upcoming album as a little more about real life
issues, adding that the good thing about Priest
is that every album is different. And now Im
going to be writing with them, I think well try
to get an even wider audience, you know?
Hopefully it will be as heavy, but I think there
will be some different vocal styles, maybe a
commercial tint to it, maybe some new
melodies, although you know, the reason why I
enjoyed Jugulator is that there were almost like
hidden melodies. People would listen to the
songs and not even realize they were there. But
when you listen to them again, people go
Wow. Like with Brain Dead, there are actually
melodies there.
Demolition was issued on July 31, 2001, and
a quick listen confirmed Rippers predictions.
Although quite similar to Jugulator in its jack-
hammering riffing, there were indeed peaks,
valleys and respites amid the mayhem. Of note
was the fact that Priest had moved back up a
notch on the record label food chain. Negotia-
tions were kept quiet, with the band even having
to skip Ozzfest 99 partially because of the deal.
In any event, Demolition would emerge on
Atlantic in North America, with the band
retaining their ties with SPV over in Europe.
Theres more light and shade on this CD,
said Owens, summing up what was still, in
effect, a pretty pulverizing album. The thing
is, we have 13 tracks on the new record, so that
gives us extra songs to go in a different direc-
tion. Theres a lot of similarities to Jugulator on
songs like One on One and Machine Man.
But it goes into a whole different area, more
melody, even a couple ballads. Its just a great
CD, I think.
Yet Ripper was still not part of the writing
team, something that seemed likely in the long
lead-up to the album. No, not on this one.
Obviously, the CD was written for my vocals,
and I do have a lot of say in the studio. But K.K.
and Glenn have been the main writers and Im
not just going to jump right in. Im willing to
stay that way for a little while. There is a bonus
track on the Japanese copy with a song that I
had written with them called Whats My
Name, and weve written since then. But its
been an odd few years, signing new record
deals, and its hard to get together when you live
3,000, 4,000 miles apart. Its hard to get together
when you dont know each others writing
styles as much and we havent written together.
Theyve always gone with new technology,
begins Owens, asked about the interesting
buzzing guitar sound used sporadically on the
album. Judas Priest has always forged forward
technically. They never looked at the past or
stayed in the past, and theyve never been afraid
to move forward. In 82 when Screaming for
Vengeance came out, it was state of the art for
that time. And now there are so many different
things you can do and they use them all. Ken
likes guitar solos that have a computeristic-type
sound at times he likes effects. The thing is,
you can play guitar now, and then go to this rack
and have 5000 different effects to choose from.
And you never have a plan when youre going in
with something. It just kind of works out
through the writing and recording process. They
did a lot more splitting up of the solos this time.
On Jugulator there was a lot more dueling guitar
solos. You can really tell the difference between
their playing. Kens got a real original style, a lot
of the wammy bar, a lot of odd guitar sounds
during the solos. Glenns patterns are pretty
straightforward; its fairly bluesy guitar playing.
I was able to show the vocal range that I
have, continues Ripper. You know, I happen
to love Jugulator myself, but this one just has
more melody, utilizing a whole different area
of my voice that people havent heard. And
Glenn knew how to get that out of me and
show people that. Lyrically, obviously there is
the classic Priest-type stuff, like tongue-in-
cheek things you dont take too seriously.
People always try to diagnose the lyrics and get
into them way too deep. Some of them are just
meant to laugh at, not be too serious. But there
are also some serious issues. Bloodsuckers is
about the court case in America, and songs like
Close to You are about losing a loved one.
Hell Is Home and In Between tackle everyday
life situations. There are a lot of lyrics that a lot
of kids will understand.
Feed on Me is a particularly strong track,
the band creating a synthesis of a lockstep riff
with a melodic chorus. As well, Ripper sounds
like Ronnie James Dio. Ive heard that, says
Ripper, but I didnt know that at the time. As
a song, actually I think its Scotts favorite also.
The first time I put lead vocals to it, I recorded
it differently, in a lower register, which you can
hear in the background on the second verse.
And I said I didnt quite like that version of it
and I just went back and belted it out.
We did a lot of stuff like that with the
vocals, doubling and tripling. The more people
listen to it, the more theyre going to hear stuff
in the record. Thats the great thing about the
CD. At the end of Close to You, theres a giant
harmony in the background that you really
have to listen to that sounds like an organ, but
its me. These are just things to put in the back-
ground, weird voices. We went into it wanting
to use a lot of effects. And Glenn said, Your
voice is so odd sometimes, I didnt want to use
any effects, because its such a strange sound.
Its actually a pretty sad song. It will probably
touch a lot of people, especially people who
have just lost a loved one. Once again, its a
classic-style Priest song.
Indeed Close to You is another welcome
departure from all the hard and humorless
heaviness. Its a dark ballad but at a mid-paced
clip. Ripper turns in a passion-filled vocal, and
throughout, the studio touches are nicely mas-
saged into this novel track, as is the hugely
melodic and well-composed guitar solo.
Ripper calls Metal Messiah the classic
metal god song of the year 2001. I think its a
step forward. Its heavy metal moved to the
future no doubt about it. Its got a modern-
sounding verse with the classic heavy metal
hard rock chorus. But I think its just got new
technology stuff in it that a lot of people havent
done in metal before. Adds Glenn, Its prob-
ably the strangest song on the album, because it
five years fighting our way back up
Mark Gromen
was written in conjunction with Chris Tsan-
garides, who is a great guy and actually the only
other person we would write with; hes a bit like
us. But its a modern song, a brave song.
Chris helped set up the initial recording
sessions in Silvermere where we started
recording, notes Ian, and he had a couple of
ideas, and he played us this tape one day and
really what you hear there and what it started
out as [laughs] . . . theres no resemblance. But
we thought yeah, its got a real good vibe, a real
good feel, and we liked that Lawrence of Arabia
phrasing. It sort of rolls along there and Glenn
thought he could work with it. Its just experi-
mentation; its what we do. Weve always
embraced new technologies. We try new
devices and bits and pieces and whatever
sounds good, well use it. Or whatever we think
sounds good, I should say [laughs]. Of note,
Tsangarides cowrites on Subterfuge as well,
and in fact had been asked to coproduce the
album with Glenn, but couldnt make it
because not only did he have a full work
schedule, but his wife was pregnant. Ergo,
Tipton gets sole credit, K.K. joking that he
wasnt included because he got lazy.
Metal Messiah is definitely a trippy one,
with a clouds-clearing chorus that is one of the
best on the album. Still, theres that near-rap
vocal, which caused some consternation
among the faithful. But its not what we call
that, because, you know, what we did is we
took two tracks and two different characters on
the tracks. So it was like one track was the first
line, and the second line was on another track,
so we were just shooting it out of different
tracks. It wasnt like straightforward speaking.
It is something we tried to do and make dif-
ferent, and not have it sound so smooth. It
makes it a little more inventive.
Lost and Found provides further dimen-
sion, this one being an acoustic ballad nicely
appointed and characterized convincingly by
Ripper the near-Celtic chorus melodies
provide another intelligent touch. Its one of
my favorites, says Ripper (mirroring the
opinion of Ian Hill), also noting that it was the
second song he tracked for the album. Hope-
fully well get it out there as a single and maybe
get some radio play. Its just a great, classic-type
Priest song. It goes back to the Last Rose of
Summer and Before the Dawn days, those
songs they used to do like that back in the 70s.
They kind of went back to their roots.
Of Cyberface (recall one of the bigger
Halford songs is called Cyberworld), Ripper
reveals that originally Scott had come to the
studio one time a couple years back, and he
had some lyrics and he gave them to Glenn.
Glenn is into computers and so is Scott, and
they just kind of went with it. They tried to
make it sound different, but that song is really
Priest-ish too. You know, the only idea we had
after Jugulator . . . when we did the live record,
we listened to Diamonds and Rust and we said
we would like to throw in a bit more melody
for the next record. Thats all we thought it
Mark Gromen
had to move forward past Jugulator, which was
a modern-sounding record. It had to move for-
ward past there. I think this album does have
elements of classic Judas Priest, but people
have to realize this is 2001, and this is a whole
different version of Judas Priest. This is about
as close to the old stuff as were going to sound.
And you know, I think we tune differently for
every song. Its one of those where youre going
to have to go get your set list ready for the live
show. I think its probably D, and probably a
few Cs its all different.
Opener Machine Man is perhaps a little
more fatiguing, like any number of Jugulator
tracks. Thats in the classic vein of Priest songs
like Exciter or Freewheel Burning or
Painkiller. Its about a motorcycle race to the
death and the Machine Man always wins. So
its a motorcycle song. Its funny, a 650
Bonneville is an old motorcycle which, you
know, Ive never heard of it. I thought I was
singing about a car and I asked Glenn about it,
and no, its a motorcycle.
Hell Is Home is another cool Demolition
track, this one being slow and quite dark, but
tempered with interesting vocal melodies. Its
really about finding your own level, says
Glenn of the lyric. If you try and get one too
high, youll be a nobody, but come down a little
bit and you can be somebody. Youre nobody
up there, but youre a big hero down here. So
the word hell in that sense has not been used
like pitchforks and all that business.
Tipton pretty much mirrors Rippers posi-
tioning of Demolition versus Jugulator,
although stressing that he wanted to make it
earthy and gritty, while still experimenting
with modern guitar textures as long as what
is done can be reproduced live. Says Glenn, If
you look at all the albums Painkiller, Point of
Entry, Turbo, British Steel theres always a
contrast. Its unmistakably Judas Priest and
they are all viable reflections of how we cur-
rently feel. I think this album has more classic
tones to it. Jugulator was a very fierce, very
angry album and thats the way we felt.
Nobody ever quite knows what to expect from
our next album. And we never take the safe
route; we take a brave route.
Its more naturally played, this album. We
put mics in front of cabinets and just got a
nice, gritty, down-to-earth background sound
and then layered stuff on top of that. And I
think Tim found his feet more on this album as
well; he found a lot of character in his voice.
When we did Jugulator, everybody just wanted
a Judas Priest album, and now we can give
them a Judas Priest album with more depth.
Its inevitable that we evolve from one album
to the next. Its been a natural thing with the
band, forever really. But again, we dont sit
down and think, Where are we going with this
album? We just sit down and write it and its a
natural reflection on how we currently feel at
five years fighting our way back up
this position in time. The next album could be
very diverse. It could be an acoustic album, not
acoustic, but you know, it could go the other
way. It could be really fierce. We dont really
know what were going to do until we sit down
and write it. I think one of the strengths of the
band is the way the two guitars match up.
Because we do have different styles and tech-
niques, and they blend together to form the
Priest sound. But were no more important
than Ian. Ians got his own style of playing.
Scott has his, and obviously the vocals, and
they all go together to produce the Priest
sound. And again, its something we really
dont have to work with; its a natural thing.
Explaining the time span between albums,
Glenn points out that people forget that when
Jugulator came out, we toured that for a long
time, about a year. And then we needed a
break. But I think we all reached a point in our
lives I know I had where my private and
personal life had to take priority. . . . Weve
always put Priest first, regardless. Were all get-
ting on a bit and I think weve all reached the
point where a lot of us have children. So yes, I
had to put my family first, and that took a lot
of time. The actual writing took the longest
time. All these things went on; people think
weve been away for four years doing nothing,
but in actual fact, a lot of water went under the
bridge. Specifically, Glenns father had come
down with serious health problems and has
since died. On the work front, Tipton had been
building a recording studio in his barn.
With Jugulator, people said its too extreme
and we had some quite bad reviews on it, and
then suddenly, the people who reviewed it
came back and said, You know what? Im really
sorry. Ive really gotten into the album. We
always get that because we dont always give
people what they expect from us. We never
have. If you expect a new Judas Priest album
you expect a certain thing. Why, I dont know,
because every one of our albums has been dif-
ferent! And thats the intrigue with the band.
Ian Hill looks to the quieter bits as Demoli-
tions trump. The main difference is the
inclusion of the lighter sides of Judas Priest, the
more subtle passages that we became known
for in the past, which was missing to a large
extent on Jugulator. Jugulator . . . was a very
aggressive, brutal album. I think we needed to
do that to let everybody know that we were
back with a bang. But one thing that was
missing was the subtler side of things, which
we rectified on Demolition.
In times gone by it was very simplistic,
says Ian, about his bass work on the album. It
was just thumping along just Dave Holland
and myself. To waver from that wouldnt really
have added to the song as a whole. You would
actually be taking some of the power away
from it if you were to start throwing licks in
there and stuff like that. With Demolition, I am
playing melodies on the bass and there is a lot
more scope for me, which is great fun to do. I
am sticking licks in there and that is something
that I havent done since the very early days.
If you expect a new Judas
Priest album you expect a
certain thing.Why, I dont
know, because every one
of our albums has
been different!
Recording with Judas Priest always takes
forever and a day, adds Hill, which is how it
has always been, since Turbo really. In the ear-
lier days, you had a deadline. You had some
studio time and that was it. If you didnt finish
it, you ended up rushing it. But as you get more
affluent as it goes, time doesnt really come into
it. So we pay a hell of a lot of attention to detail,
try to iron out every little problem, every little
mistake or glitch, all the tiny little things that
really piss you off every time you hear them.
Its the worst thing in the world when some-
thing goes out there on the shelf and you know
theres something on there you could have
done better. Now youve got to live with it for
the rest of your life. So that attention to detail
does take a long time. Glenn did a lot of work
on the production. Theres a lot of production
on there, all of which takes time. Even in the
studio, the songs take on new character. You go
in there thinking youre going to play some-
thing, and you come out playing something
completely different, and its time-consuming.
Its not as if we were taking it easy. The album
was getting worked on for about 12 months.
Given the snails pace of the Demolition job,
rumors flew in at least a couple of directions.
Pointing to cozy quotes from Halford about
the guys, the Internet was abuzz that a reunion
with Rob must be in the cards. As well, Ripper
had used some of his downtime to catch a few
shows, Pantera being a particular favorite.
With Ripper being younger than the Priest
guys, with one very heavy Priest record under
his belt (surely Rippers doing!), and with Phil
Anselmo feuding with Vinnie and Dimebag
and off working with various sideprojects, the
natural indication was to assume Ripper would
be the new singer for Pantera. None of that, of
course, transpired, although after Priest did get
back together with Rob, Ripper had himself a
good gig in hand with Iced Earth. Also as the
album was simmering, Rob was in Cleveland
doing a radio interview, and Ripper was pub-
licly called down for a hello, resulting in a
cordial meeting between the Metal God and
his disciple.
Still, rumors persisted of Robs imminent
return to the fold, which seemed to increas-
ingly rankle Owens, who somewhat fanned the
flames by repeatedly pointing out that Hal-
fords career wasnt going so hot, so of course,
Rob wanted back in.
There will always be rumors, said Glenn
for the millionth time during those days of tur-
moil. Forevermore, to our dying day. This is
our third album with Ripper. Weve just spent
five years fighting our way back up. I dont
five years fighting our way back up
even think about reunions. And if you come
and watch the band, hes the best singer around
in the world. Thats what I think. And hes a
nice guy. He does have bad wind, but we can
put up with it [laughs]. Just kidding. Therell
always be rumors.
All told, Demolition had a little more
humanity than Jugulator, but fully charming it
was not. And as Glenn says, its more expansive
and ambitious in terms of arrangements, pro-
duction tones, layers, tips n tricks. Theres a
strong connection to mechanistic, Pantera-
esque modern metal to be sure some
grumbled and called it nu-metal but the
guys try some interesting things, and succeed
in the doing thereof, resulting in a mature
record worthy of continued exploration.
Im going to be dead honest with you right
now, says Scott Travis, struggling to differen-
tiate between the two albums, granted, five
years down the line. I couldnt tell you which
songs are on which album. My point is, its
going to be hard for me to answer that, because
I dont recall any of the songs. From my stand-
point . . . they were both recorded at the same
studio in England, obviously at different times,
I guess about a year and a half or two years
apart. They were recorded with the same engi-
neer, the same studio, the same general setting
and surrounding, and recorded in the same
way. And so for me, its really hard to differen-
tiate between them. I can picture myself in the
studio on a given day, or when something hap-
pened or something broke down, and I
couldnt tell you which record it was. The main
reason I have this feeling is that because we lit-
erally did them using the same formula the
only time Ive done that with Priest or Racer X
or anybody. I mean, every Priest record weve
done was in a different location, different engi-
neer, different setting.
Mark Gromen
A year after the fact, Ripper reflected on the
press and fan reaction to the album. You can
look at some magazines like Rolling Stone, where
we got a great review, and you look at other ones
and we didnt. I think the problem with Demo-
lition is that people put it on at one time and
listened to it, and reviewed it or put it on at one
time and didnt listen to it. Some people said
there wasnt any melody in the CD, but I just
dont get it. I mean there are two slow songs
thats melody. I think a lot of people jumped the
gun on it. I dont think the records ever get good
reviews when they first come out. I go back in
time and read old reviews on Painkiller and it
had a lot of bad reviews, and nowadays that
album is looked upon as one of their best
records. Its always like that because Judas Priest
changes every record, and I think the big thing
about Demolition was that you had to keep
listening to it because there was a lot there.
There were a lot of vocals there, there was a lot
of music there, and I think it just took a lot of
listens, or a few and it got better. The album
grows on you. There might be a few too many
songs on it. People said there was too much
music, and I thought it was pretty cool to give
people lots of music. Lets just give em eight
songs for three minutes apiece next time just
like they used to in the day, and then well be in
trouble because its all too short. You cant win.
Being on a major label and making a
better record didnt help Judas Priest sell
more records. Demolition topped out at a lowly
#165 on the Billboard charts, selling 52,000
copies over the course of four years, half the
number notched by Jugulator. The launching
of Lost and Found as a single and video
seemed half-hearted from the start, and mar-
keting for the record was thin on the ground. It
didnt help that Demolitions album cover came
across as slapdash, Priest using to an even
greater extent the same kiddie-corner blood-
red that was present on all the Ripper-era
product thus far.
Of course you have to get people to buy
your records nowadays and not burn them,
commented Ripper on the low record sales.
Its affecting music, theres not a question
about it when you could sell 20,000 or
30,000 more copies, that affects you. I mean I
tell people all the time, if somebody burns my
CD and has me sign it, you know, Im not an
ass, Im gonna sign it. But I just say, Do you
work for free? I mean, when computers take
over everybodys job at the local bread factory
or wherever theyre working at and they dont
need them, dont come crying to me. You
should be able to burn a song or two off a CD,
but you shouldnt be able to burn the whole
CD. But I think we gotta worry more about war
right now than burning CDs.
five years fighting our way back up
Judas Priest also saw a pretty swell reissue
program out of Columbia in 2001 (actually in
three phases, with the third dipping into 2002),
each of the albums originally issued for the label
(Sin After Sin through Painkiller) relaunched
with puzzle-like spine graphics that, combined,
map out the Priest cross on fire.
Some albums needed a lot of work to bring
them up to the same quality as say, British
Steel, noted Glenn at the time. British Steel
didnt need a lot of work, but going back to
Stained Class and albums like that, theyre a
little bit thin on the bottomend and we beefed
themup. And the guy who did the remastering,
John Astley, hes great he did the Led Zep-
pelins and of course we dug up all these
unheard tracks, which are bona fide bonus
tracks instead of retakes of songs that have
already been released. And that, combined with
the extra photos and information and the
package themselves, I just think its a wonderful
package. We would never do anything half
measure. I think some of these remaster things
are bit of a con and they shortchange the fans.
We are so proud of our fans and our back cat-
alog that I think this is a must for every Priest
fan and metal fan. Its a real part of history.
Adds Ian, Listening to some of the older
albums as well, youve got to realize that they
are over 20 years old and the technology then,
obviously, was primitive compared to todays
standards. So to get those albums sounding
somewhat modern, with modern technology,
there is a considerable difference in the avail-
able quality.
Essentially, each album came with one new
non-LP studio track and a live track not
exactly an embarrassment of riches given how
extensive reissues can be these days. Whats
more, little care was taken with respect to
pairing up either the originals or the live tracks
with the era from which the original album
sprung. A live version of 1984s Jawbreaker
tacked to the end of 1977s Sin After Sin is cor-
porate stupidity in action, and this happens all
over the place here, although the two live
albums get additional live tracks logically
appropriate to the situation. And its a bit dis-
maying that the studio tracks even if they
are in the wrong places are only vaguely
explained within the scant, puffed-up, clich-
ridden liner notes. Still, the sound is improved,
lyrics are included, and the spine puzzle is a
nice touch, even if tiny glitches in the execution
abound. The set was also purchasable all at
once as The Re-Masters, with a spiffy box to
hold strong the metal enclosed. Even this was
slightly botched by Sony/Legacy, with the U.S.
box stickered as a U.K. one, and only 1000
copies ordered up for America matching the
U.K. quantity which quickly sold out.
In addition to live tracks being placed care-
lessly throughout, some of them are even
credited with wrong dates. No need to run
down the facts surrounding these, but a recap of
the studio rarities is in order. Sin After Sin
includes the bands cover of Guns Race with
the Devil, actually recorded in Birmingham,
during the Stained Class sessions. Stained Class,
on the other hand, includes Fire Burns Below
from the Ram it Down sessions nine years later,
in Denmark. Hell Bent for Leather adds Fight
for Your Life, the Rock Hard Ride Free proto-
type from the Defenders of the Faith sessions five
years hence. British Steel goes with Red, White
& Blue from the Turbo sessions in sunny
Nassau. Point of Entry adds Thunder Road
from the Ram it Down sessions, while Screaming
for Vengeance goes with Prisoner of Your Eyes
from the Turbo sessions. Defenders also gets a
Turbo session track in Turn on Your Light, and
Turbo aptly gets a Turbo session track in All
Fired Up. Painkiller receives a track from its
own session as well, with Living Bad Dreams,
which would have been that albums quietest
song had it lived to tell the tale back in 1990.
It is interesting that no real gems fall out of
that lot, with the general trend being toward a
commerciality that is almost AOR or hair metal
at times, unsurprising in that almost all of these
rarities originate from the mid-80s when,
much to K.K.s chagrin, all these bloody new
bands were suddenly outselling the masters.
To add even more buzz and chatter to the
Priest saga at this point, a Hollywood movie
was in the works. Called Rock Star, and eventu-
ally starring Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer
Aniston, the movie was supposed to be the
story of Rippers rise from a Priest cover band
into the ranks of the band covered.
Mused Ian, I really dont know how this
happened. Originally, they had their rights.
There was that article in the New York Times
about how Ripper got discovered and he ended
up playing with his idols, and all the rest of it.
Well, they bought the rights to that story and
then there were a few rumors in the business
that they were going to do this, and suddenly
we were seeing on the Internet that there was
going to be this movie, the story of Ripper
Owens. And we thought, wait a minute, if
thats the case we better get in touch with these
people and ask them if they want any help. I
mean, hearing things through the horses
mouth, might be worth listening. And after
that, of course, things changed and they didnt
want us involved in it and obviously, its their
story, their movie. But from what Ive heard,
people are saying its not really the same story.
Its a generic band now with generic members
and the characters dont really equate to what
we are. So its something were bracing for.
Because obviously, people are going to think
its the story of Judas Priest.
As it turned out, as Ian says, Hollywood
didnt want Priest meddling, and Priest, having
gotten a look at the script, was up in arms over
the liberties taken with the story. Each went
about their business, the movie indeed ending
up having little to do with the actual tale of
Rippers rise. Despite huge buzz in the metal
community, like most rock n roll movies, Rock
Star died a death on its quick way to video, yet
another thin, simplistic and predictable tale
loaded up with heavy metal clichs.
five years fighting our way back up
(Steamhammer/SPV, January 03)
Disc 1
Metal Gods
Heading out to the Highway
Touch of Evil
Blood Stained
Victim of Changes
The Sentinel
One on One
Running Wild
The Ripper
Diamonds and Rust
Feed on Me
The Green Manalishi
(with the Two-Pronged Crown)
Disc 2
Beyond the Realms of Death
Burn in Hell
Hell Is Home
Breaking the Law
Desert Plains
Youve Got Another Thing Comin
Turbo Lover
The Hellion
Electric Eye
Living After Midnight
Hell Bent for Leather
ok, I can live with this
Live in London
One-upping Halford, who pulled from
his leather chaps a double live album
after one studio album, Priest was about
to unleash a second double live album
amid two studio albums. Combined,
thats six discs of live material (and at the
root of all of it, a mega-metal supply of
Halford-era Priest classics) against three
rounders of new music.
In any event, there it was on the racks, on
April 8, 2003, Live in London, housed in a
metallic cardboard over-sleeve, embossed, but
otherwise simply stated. The album was the
product of the Demolition tour, which saw
Ripper trot out a shiny chrome coat which fans
set about calling the baked potato jacket.
Ripper himself joked that the blinding coat of
steel has ties to Roswell, that it accelerates plant
growth, and that by the end of the set, Glenn is
sporting a nice golden tan.
Europe was first to hear Priest in Demolition
mode, the tour commencing on June 8, 2001,
in Switzerland, and ending in Spain a month
and a couple of dozen dates later. After taking
August off, the band went to South America,
logging five dates that wound their way up to
Mexico on September 10, 2001.
The terrorist attacks of September 11th
postponed the U.S. portion of the tour, which
was supposed to feature Anthrax and Iced
Earth as support. In fact, the band found itself
stranded in Mexico for four or five days, and
their equipment impounded. The fact that
they had no equipment, that their record was
called Demolition, and that one of the backup
bands was called Anthrax all combined to
cause a cessation of touring activities.
Dion DeTora
Halloween found the band back in Europe
for 14 dates, before three dates in Australia and
four dates in Japan through December of 01.
Four days after playing the last Japanese date
on December 15th, Priest found themselves at
the Brixton Academy in London recording the
CD and DVD that was to be Live in London.
There may have, in fact, been plans to issue
only a DVD, but, says Priest management, SPV
(of note, Atlantic is now out of the picture),
requested that a CD version of the event also be
issued, the CD emerging with six more tracks
than the DVD.
Two tracks from Jugulator (Blood Stained
and Burn in Hell) and three tracks from
Demolition (One on One, Feed on Me and
Hell Is Home) would make the 25-track live
CD, although on the tour, Bloodsuckers and
Machine Man also surfaced in the set list. The
Live in London album found the band super-
charged and massive of attack. Ripper is in fine
form, and a number of cool track inclusions
from the Halford era that werent around for 98
Live Meltdown made the grade, namely Desert
Plains, Turbo Lover, United, Heading out
to the Highway and Running Wild.
Ripper claims the album is pretty bare
bones in terms of touch-ups, and certainly on
the vocal end, he wasnt involved in any fixes
whatsoever. I would have probably fixed some
bad notes that I had, but you know, I like that.
I like that element because its a good element
to have. What you hear is what you get. I know
I could sing better than that, but I sure could
sing a lot worse than that too. Its just a good
live record and I think as a fan you want it.
People say Oh hes doing that again. Well, then
you know, dont buy the damn thing. Youd be
the first person to buy a bootleg for two dollars
off the Internet that sounds like shit, but yet
youre not gonna spend 14, 15 dollars on a
Dion DeTora
double live CD with 25 songs. I think its a good
package, nice cover; its got nice stuff in it. Its
different than the DVD, which has plenty of
backstage stuff that Priest never did. Its got
soundcheck and the CD has extra tracks and
everything in between.
With regard to the soundcheck footage,
Ripper says its useful simply from an instruc-
tional point of view. Obviously we added
more songs in there for soundcheck because
we usually dont do five songs or whatever. I
screwed up Machine Man and thats on there,
and I wanted to do it again, but we were out of
time. And I was saying, Gee, if Glenn screwed
it up, wed do it again!
It is a good song selection. There are songs
I wish were on there that we played on the last
tour like Bloodsuckers and Exciter and
Devils Child, but every tour has to change.
Unfortunately you always miss some when you
put 25 songs on a record. I thought Exciter
last tour was a really good one and Blood-
sucker was a great opener. It always went over
good; it surprised people. But this live CD is
really good. I say just get em theyre both
different. The DVD is surround sound, has a
great sound, and the CD is in stereo and has just
a wonderful sound. Thats the main thing
theyre just two great packages. I think the DVD
is quite funny myself.
You would like it if youre a fan because its
something of a coming out period, continues
Owens, contrasting the two live albums. This
record, Im way more comfortable in the band
because Ive been in it now. Theres a sense of
humor element between some songs, and my
singing is much better. I think maybe its
because I sing it like I want to sing it, and its
easier for me. I learned from Meltdown what to
do and what not to do, and I learn every day.
Dion DeTora Dion DeTora
Overall its more entertaining than Meltdown,
and its also way rawer.
Seven years later and I still get a kick when
we go on the road. Glenn and I will get up and
hit the golf course or go to the gym together.
Ken and I will go to the gym together. We all go
out to eat together all the time. I still get excite-
ment out of it. I get excited when I see stuff in
magazines or newspapers. I still get a kick out
of it, yeah, its definitely quite amazing. Of
course, right from the start they were the nicest
guys in the world and that was the odd thing
that we had. We kind of bonded when we first
met each other for this strange type of a
reason, and I think thats really also what
helped me get the gig. It was my voice on that
videotape, but I was a normal guy and they
went Hey, this guys normal which they liked,
because theyre definitely down-to-earth,
normal guys.
I had one guy flip me off
and by halfway through
the concert I had him
singing with me, so that
was really cool.
Dion DeTora
The crowd response is phenomenal, con-
tinues Ripper, on how things went down on
the tour. I mean, you work the show and you
see it. I think every tour we always have a few
skeptics come, and I think during the show or
sometimes after the first song they go, OK, I
can live with this. And it really is like that; Ive
seen peoples reaction. Im telling you the reac-
tion has just been phenomenal. I mean, I dont
get the bad stuff like I heard other singers used
to get when they filled in, with the people
turning their back and all that stuff. But I had
one guy flip me off and by halfway through the
concert I had him singing with me, so that was
really cool because at first it was pissing me off.
I was like Yeah, yeah, screw you buddy, and
then I kept trying to get him to sing and as it
went on, the guy started singing with me. But
most of the time its a great reaction. Judas
Priest concerts are the most enjoyable concerts
Dion DeTora
Dion DeTora
Dion DeTora
because the crowd sings and we have fun. Were
not up there cussing the whole night. Were not
up there doing obscene stuff all night; its just a
good heavy metal concert.
I wish there was some drum and guitar
solos, adds Ripper, addressing the rigors of
such a demanding vocal gig night after night.
I barely have time to go back and change my
shirt. There never has been with Scott. I tried
to talk him into doing a drum solo before
Painkiller, but he never would, never does.
We play what the songs are. You know, we play
the guitar solos in the songs, we play the
drumming in the songs. We dont do anything
else, we dont tell any stories up onstage, we
laugh a bit, say a few funny words in between
songs, but were about the music and
sounding good and having fun. But I would
take a few guitar or drum solos let me get
off the stage for a second.
January of 02 finally found the band put-
ting a beating on America, Anthrax in tow for
an intensive run through February, with
Anthrax sending a bunch of strippers onto the
stage for the final show in Auburn Hills,
Michigan. In March and April it was back over
to Europe (Squealer as support), and then a
second leg in America through the summer.
As 2003 bled into 2004, the rumors of Rob
Halfords impending invitation back into the
ranks of Priest would persist and grow louder. As
it turned out, the metal gods were listening . . .
Dion DeTora
Angel of Retribution
(Sony/BMG, February 05)
Judas Rising
Deal with the Devil
Worth Fighting For
Wheels of Fire
Loch Ness
Well be able to keep
our testicles next year
Angel of Retribution
Whether the fans talked it into being, or
whether it was management or the band
themselves, the inevitable happened,
and Priest was back in black intact. Rob
Halford had returned, after a casual dis-
cussion around the Metalogy box set in
Robs kitchen, the Camp David of
heavy metal, at his Birmingham home,
set it so. CNN was given the exclusive
rights to announce the news, and on
July 11 of 2003, they did just that, cata-
pulting the band back into mainstream
rock n roll consciousness, perhaps still
as a bit of an amusing 80s throwback,
but loud n proud in millions of family
rooms all the same.
And not only did Ripper Owens expect a
reunion with Rob, he had suggested it, or cer-
tainly gave the band his blessing. Ever the
optimist, the move had allowed him to pursue
other options, which he has, both with his own
band, Beyond Fear, and a bigger fish, Iced Earth.
As a matter of fact, everybody was really up
front about it, says Metal Mike, now guitarist
for a newly dormant (but never officially extin-
guished) Halford band. It wasnt something
we talked about every day. As I said, I was there
to play in Halford. I wasnt concerned about
Priest or what their management said. But they
were up front. And this speaks to Robs profes-
sionalism and John Baxters professionalism.
He said Rob and K.K. or Glenn met and talked,
and nothing is in stone, but something might
go down. And we were like, cool. We can pre-
pare ourselves and think about what needed to
be done and kind of feel out the situation. It
wasnt like, Hey, by the way, Priest is going to
get back together tomorrow [laughs].
And, as these things go, a bunch of
nostalgia-mad Judas Priest 30th anniversary
tour dates were cooked up to make some cash
heading into what would be a knee-trembler of
an idea for all involved, a new Judas Priest
studio album featuring the classic lineup.
The main thing is that obviously we were
very close in the early days, family-like, really,
mused K.K. in June of 04, eight months ahead
of issuing what was to be Angel of Retribution.
Obviously, Rob knew my family and I knew
his family well, and it was actually Robs mom
and dads 50th wedding anniversary, which is
obviously the big one, isnt it? So I was invited
to that and of course Rob was there and that
was the first time Id seen him in many, many
years. And we didnt discuss anything about
anything at the time. It was just a celebration, a
big bash. And we got on well, type of thing, and
it was around that time we were getting very
good offers from promoters around the world,
including offers for Ozzfest. This is going back
a while a bit now, and people were saying, if the
band got back together, wed like to offer this
and offer that and do some pretty cool things.
So we were kind of aware of the fact that there
it didnt happen
overnight, it certainly
didnt. It was like 14 years
that inevitably had
to happen.
Steven J. Messina
was a demand there, throughout the industry.
Up until then, we were just aware that there
was demand from the media and the fans, basi-
cally [laughs]. We were always aware that there
was a demand for the original lineup. Things
were kind of turning a little bit in the music
industry where promoters were thinking, Well,
if we put Priest back together, we could do this.
I guess what Im trying to say is that a lot of
other bands that were hopeful to replace us,
really, in the marketplace, hadnt really fulfilled
expectations, I dont think. I think thats kind
of across the board with promoters and record
companies, to be honest. And so theyre prob-
ably thinking, Good ol Priest; get Priest back
together, and we can do some good business
together again, you know? [laughs]
It just kind of came together, bit by bit, to
make sense. And obviously the box set and the
remasters . . . we were having to work with Rob
on that, collaborate, and then eventually what
Rob did had run its course and what we did
had run its course. And we did a couple of
records, obviously, with Ripper, a couple of
world tours, and obviously Tim was a great
vocalist. But I think he was showing signs of
wanting to be himself and to project himself
and to do his own thing as well. So in a nut-
shell, it didnt happen overnight, it certainly
didnt. It was like 14 years that inevitably had
to happen [laughs].
But, explains K.K., there was no big sit-
down in the months or years before the fateful
kitchen party summit that brought the idea to
a head. No, it was never that. We were always
very tentative, do you know what I mean? I
think it was just one of the standoff things; we
didnt really want to approach Rob and say,
Well, how you feel? Do you want to rejoin the
band? And he didnt want to say, Hey lads,
how do you feel about me rejoining the band?
It was never actually spoken, you know. Call it
well be able to keep our testicles next year
Chris Casella
stubborn, whatever you will, but it just kind of
had to be seen to be taken for granted that
something was going to happen.
Thats still an open book, said Rob, a
couple of years earlier, while indicating some-
thing could happen. I never close that
possibility in my mind. Ive always felt that
there is still something to be said. Theres still a
final chapter in that book to be finished. The
thing about Priest is that its like family or
friends. You can see each other five years from
now and its just like you were with each other
yesterday, because youve lived and experienced
so much of your life together time really is of
no consequence. Its just like opening the door
and walking back in that room; things really
havent changed that much.
Downing says that the patching up of rela-
tionships was approached a bit differently for
Steven J. Messina
Its just like opening the
door and walking back in
that room; things really
havent changed that much.
each member of the band. To be honest, the
one thing is that Glenn didnt actually make that
event, Robs parents anniversary. He had com-
mitments; he had to go to Spain. I think it was a
lot easier for me and Ian, really, because of that
initial meeting with Rob. It wasnt until we all
actually sat down in the same room, which was
a long time after that event, where total accept-
ance of what lay forward showed itself.
Just as there had to be tour dates to accom-
pany the hubbub, there were two bits of
product issued to support the cause. In
November of 03, Sony released the Electric Eye
DVD, which featured all of the bands promo-
tional videos, as well as rare English TV
appearances from the mid 70s. There was also
a concert video, filmed in Dallas, Texas, on the
Fuel for Life tour. Much more substantial was
the aforementioned Metalogy box set, which
featured extensive liner notes from eminent
New York critic and Priest expert Bryan
Reesman, as well as four CDs and one DVD of
content, none of which one would class as
more exciting than the rarities added to the
remasters just some live tracks, really. The
packaging was nice though, the individual card
sleeves and booklet housed in a swell leather n
studsfestooned box. The DVD contained the
December 12, 1982, Memphis show from the
bands Screaming for Vengeance tour, the set
also to be issued as a stand-alone DVD in 2006.
Its so close to being done, it isnt funny,
continued K.K., anticipating the new albums
release, which would eventually see delays past
Downings stated projections. Weve got a few
days of guitar overdubs, and maybe one day of
vocals to do. But its there, its pretty much
complete, and weve played it to the record
company. But obviously, were on tour now in
Europe. Im in Prague at the moment and its
going fantastic. We must have played to about
10,000 people last night it was sold out last
night here in Prague. Luckily we brought the
record company out Sony, and the pro-
moters so were talking about putting on a
worldwide tour, releasing the album in early
November, and then get Christmas out of the
way. Weve already put dates in in the U.K. and
Japan. But yes, weve literally got to put the fin-
ishing touches to it, at the end of this leg, prior
to the Ozzfest. And then obviously weve got to
give it to our producer to start the mixing
process, and then we want some involvement
in that along the way. And then when you give
it to the record company, they preferably want
six to eight weeks to turn it around. But its
good, because were doing all these festivals
throughout Europe to re-present ourselves,
and were doing 29 shows with the Ozzfest,
throughout the States. It will be great to get out
there and reconsolidate our position, and obvi-
ously put a world tour together, which will be
totally revamped, the whole thing, for a Priest
spectacular in 2005.
well be able to keep our testicles next year
Adds K.K. about the record to come, The
only thing I can say is that at the moment were
all convinced that well be able to keep our tes-
ticles next year and that the fans are not going
to string us up you know, Hang on, this is
not what we want. Hopefully its going to be
pretty much exactly what everyone wanted
fromPriest. We think theres a lot of good stuff
on there. Its pretty long; weve got a lot of
material left over, so were going to do our best.
But were going to be playing it to a few people
just as a backup, and saying Hey, is this OK?
[laughs]. You know what I mean? Maybe well
drag some fans in off the street and say Hey, do
you like this or not?
When myself and Glenn and Rob got
together to start the songwriting process, it
happened very quickly. The songs came about
were all convinced that
well be able to keep our
testicles nextyear and
that the fans are not
going to string us up.
Steven J. Messina
very quickly. And immediately, especially obvi-
ously with Robs voice, it sounded pretty much
like traditional Priest. So without having to
look to any other influences, I think we were
able to look to ourselves and what we do best.
Priest as the band has always pushed the
boundaries of rock and metal as we know it, a
little bit here and there, and were always trying
to capture the ears of some new listeners, to
join the ranks. But I think pretty much youll
hear songs on there that could be on the
Painkiller album, could be on British Steel
maybe. Who knows? There could be a song on
there that couldve been on Turbo.
I think weve been pretty productive. We
havent hung around. We put the songs
together pretty quick, as I say. The recording
process inevitably slows things down a little
bit, with todays technology, everything has to
sound pretty good. But we havent been
beating around the bush. We got on with it. I
think when people hear the album, theyll
probably hear us just trying to fulfill the bands
wishes by doing those sort of trade-off solos
and stuff that we used to do a lot more of on
the early albums. I think thats been our main
intention, is to appease the fans who really
want to hear that from us.
Turning attention to Rob, K.K. explains that
he hasnt seen any material changes in him.
Rob, by and large, hes a gentleman. People
might think that hes a dark, sinister, aggressive
character. But hes a mature gentleman, very
professional in his approach to everything he
does. Rob being away from the band, I think
hes very much got a grip on what is right for
well be able to keep our testicles next year
Chris Casella
us and what isnt. Hes pretty cool, really, ami-
cable, democratic in the studio. The fact is, hes
coming up with a lot of ideas thats the
main thing. You know, if you run dry, peoples
tempers start to get a bit frayed. But fortu-
nately for us, theres been an abundance of
nonstop flowing ideas, thats kept everybodys
interest. Hes been really good. And Rob really
does have a good sense of humor, because we
all come from the same neighborhood. Hes a
very funny guy, you know. A lot of people dont
know this, but hes a very good impressionist.
At the moment, I dont know if you never seen
a series BoSelecta, its a U.K. thing, but . . . Rob
has always been able to do these impressions.
He can take virtually anybody off. So he
amuses us endlessly. But he doesnt make that
well known, really and hes reluctant to do it.
He just comes up with it to amuse himself, but
obviously at the same time he amuses us.
K.K. offered an update on his fabled manor
house. Its his sanctuary and something hes
proud of, having spent a lot of energy, time and
money on its upkeep. To be honest, Ive got a
development going on. Ive constructed a golf
course facility and a leisure facility, just some-
thing outside of music I have an interest in
doing, really. And its a beautiful estate that I
have. Ive got a kind of an interest. I like to see
things manicured, everything neat and tidy,
and maybe I can create something else for
people to enjoy other than records [laughs].
The golf course is all part and parcel of it.
Because its a large house I dont have a
family, a direct family, wife and children
basically I thought, well Ive got something
here that Id like people to enjoy, you know?
Have a nice bar and swimming pool and stuff
like that. Just something . . . I suppose eventu-
David Bridge
Zach Peterson
ally Ill move to somewhere else on the estate,
but yes, Id like to see myself become quite suc-
cessful at doing that, hopefully. Its always been
a project, you know, rather than me doing
some stupid solo album or something
[laughs]. Ive just concentrated on Judas Priest,
which has been my life, so its basically been a
bit of a side project, something Ive been able
to do. Its a beautiful estate; its just over 300
acres, you know, in a ring fence. There are
beautiful water features and valleys and stuff
like that. Its just something for me to be able to
develop slowly in the years and years to come.
Maybe when I hang up the axe [laughs], just
enjoy that, you know? I actually started out life
in hotel and catering, so Im quite at home in
that situation. Also Ive got a studio there and
Im making lots of noise, so maybe it will keep
people away, who knows [laughs]?
While things were looking great for Priest in
the present, a name from the bands past was
writing a darker chapter. In January of 2004,
former Priest drummer Dave Holland was
found guilty of one count of attempted rape
and five counts of indecent assault, regarding a
17-year-old male with learning difficulties, to
well be able to keep our testicles next year
Eduardo Greif
whom Holland had been giving drum lessons.
The aforementioned Tom Galley (from Daves
old band Trapeze) offers some thoughts on the
Dave he knewway back then and the Dave who
found himself in the worst bind of his life.
Because they operated out of Cannock
because thats where we all came from, and
Dave was from Northampton Dave lived
with our mom and dad for years. He spent
more time at mom and dads house than he did
probably at home. Life after Trapeze obviously
led him in a totally different direction. I hon-
estly think that what he ended up in and
this is my own opinion wasnt totally as
black as it was painted. I think he was nave in
all aspects of it, and I think he was nave in the
way he presented himself in court as far as a
defense was concerned. I mean, we were all
shocked. It wasnt something where, yeah, we
knew what was going on. No, we didnt. We
were all as shocked as everybody else.
But yes, Dave, while he was with Trapeze,
he lived in Northampton when we werent
rehearsing or playing. But he lived with my
mom and dad while he was in Cannock, while
they were playing, which was 50 percent of the
year. And obviously, when youre a three-piece,
youre very much family. So what happened to
him in his later life was a big shock. I mean, the
footage they showed on TV of him going to
court, when I saw him, the first thing I said to
my wife was, Hes going to go down. Just
because of the way he looked! Being in the
position he was, and being in Judas Priest after
Trapeze . . . we had had for a few years in
Britain a big push against pedophilia. He was
Greg Olma
going to get roasted, but he didnt approach it
in that way. His attitude was, to me, totally
nave. If you saw him, going to court, you
would say Yes, he looks like one. If hes going
to make a case, visual is everything. You could
tell he was going down; there was no alterna-
tive. The problem is, all those years, in one fell
swoop, are nullified.
Final word on this unsavory subject goes to
Glenn Hughes. Its very difficult, because Ive
known Dave for 35 years. All I can say about
the Dave Holland thing is that nobody under-
stood what was going on, or had any inkling of
what was happening, if it did happen . . . I dont
know. Its none of my business. Its Gods busi-
ness. But Dave has always been a great
drummer. All the other stuff that has happened
to him, its Gods business; it really is.
Back to the cheerier business of Judas
Priest, K.K. seemed to be enjoying the expected
renewed interest in the band, given the return
of Rob. Yeah, to be honest, with Rob back in
the band now, obviously the venues have been
massive, the ones weve been playing on our
own. Like last night, we just had Soulfly sup-
porting us. Were playing to thousands of
people, and I think when Rob gets a taste of
well be able to keep our testicles next year
Greg Olma
wed be really, really
stupid to throwthe towel
in a second time.
that again after all these years . . . well, wed be
really, really stupid to throw the towel in a
second time. I think were still good for it
[laughs]. Anyone who comes and sees us on
the Ozzfest . . . I mean, the reception for us has
been absolutely, seriously rapturous. We just
did a festival in Holland and we were head-
lining, Scorpions before us and Alice Cooper
and Motrhead, a stack of bands, and it was
just like old times and it was great. And now
that Priest are back, I do feel that there is a
good faction of the metal fans that are saying,
Yeah, Priest can really do it; lets go forward.
And forward they went Angel of Retribu-
tion would be recorded over the course of six
months, with Roy Z producing, the band uti-
lizing studios in both L.A. and in Worcestershire,
U.K. There was thought of clawing back Tom
Allom to provide a golden and nostalgic touch,
but then it was figured that hed been out of the
metal scene too long, and that the guys should go
with a current, enthusiastic, youthful pro, Roy
proving all of that and more by helping Bruce
Dickinson make resoundingly better albums
than Maiden.
I went to dinner with those guys, explains
Z, with regard to getting the gig, and I
remember Glenn said something like, Hey, we
couldnt get Mutt Lange, so I guess our next
choice is you. Something like that. But he was
kidding. Of course I said yes. So schedule-wise,
I knocked everything out. There were some
projects I was working on and I said, Hey,
sorry, I gotta do something. I didnt tell one
person. I mean, my mom knew, my brother
knew, my girlfriend knew, and that was about
it. Its hard to do; you just gotta keep your
mouth shut. That is something I learned a
while ago. I have to have that respect and I have
to give people that I work for that sovereignty,
that feeling that theyre in control.
Im not gonna lie and say I never stressed
out, says Roy, about the pressures of producing
Priest under these circumstances. I was
stressed quite often. It was in the forefront of
my mind that it had to be the right record. Per-
sonally, I didnt want to settle for anything that
wasnt good. And I know those guys, in their
own hearts, didnt want that either. So, it was a
lot of going back and forth, but I think at the
end of the day we got there, hopefully. Hope-
fully the fans like it. All I have to say is it was a
lot of work, but it was fun too. It was done,
Hey,we couldnt get
Mutt Lange, so I guess
our next choice is you.
Steven J. Messina
really, in a smart way. They gave me the songs,
the demos, that they felt they wanted to put on
their record. So, I lived with them and I got to
know the songs and I just studied them. Really
rough demos, but the songs came across. They
had vocals, but they were sketches and some of
those sketches were really good. Like I said, it
was a really smart way to go about it I got to
live with the songs for a good while.
I have to put on my Teflon suit [laughs] in
case objects start flying my way, says Roy,
about dealing with all those opinions in the
studio. No, people, once they get to know me,
they know Im a passionate person and Ill
always, at the end of the day, let the artist
decide. But I suggest things, or Ill say, Hey,
you might want to look at this. But these guys
. . . its hard sometimes because I dont have the
big platinum records on my wall. Whenever
you meet someone new or you bring someone
into your circle, like they brought me in, you
try to get to know the people and vice versa. So,
Im sure I was put to some test somewhere
down the line, but I didnt catch it. I was just
myself. I always make it a point just to be
honest. Sometimes the truth hurts, for all of us,
especially looking at ourselves. Im at a point
now where it could be the biggest band in the
world and if I think theyre jerk-offs, Ill quit,
Ill go home. Life is too short, and you give up
big chunks of your life to do this. I dont care
how much money youre going to make; if its
not for the right cats, then . . . Im not a quitter
either but I just wouldnt put myself in the
position to work for them. Id remove myself; I
wouldnt even start, if I had a hint that
someone is a jerk. You give up six months,
eight months, a year of your life youre
never gonna get that back. But these guys are
some of the classiest dudes in the world. And
what was cool on their side was that they gave
me respect. I had to earn it, but at the end they
gave me respect. That is why I think really
highly of those cats.
Asked about advanced studio techniques,
Roy says there are no tricks its all about the
tunes, performances. Theres nothing to trick
anybody with. Its just good ol songs, right
down the heart songs and special, magic per-
formances. The sound is the last thing you
worry about, you know. Because whats a good
sound? So and sos record sounds good, but
how is that going to sound in ten years? So I
had to make sure we didnt time-stamp the
thing. Thats the only thing I could say I was
nervous about. I could put on an AC/DC
record, and its not the best-sounding record,
but you know what? The performance and the
songs thats what creates longevity. Thats
why Priest have longevity, because theyve
always had good songs and performances . . .
thats why they are who they are.
Rob is the chosen one, muses Roy. Hes
one of the chosen ones. Hes one of the ones
well be able to keep our testicles next year
Sean Langlands
that God gave this amazing gift to. There are
only a few of those people walking this earth.
Rob used to blow our minds. He used to blow
my mind. He would get on there and he would
just belt. At that point, you go like, I cant
believe this is happening. There are very few
guys that could touch him. And all I know is,
since I can remember, Glenn and K.K. have
always kept up. They are amazing guitar
players as well. I kept thinking to myself, These
guys are 50-what? And theyre playing like
this? It was great man.
It was all done on ProTools, the whole nine
yards, says Roy, although theres an organic
old school quality to the final result that wisely
steers clear of anything antiseptic. Unfortu-
nately to go onto tape these days . . . well, now
that they stopped making tape, its even harder.
I miss tape so much. Its so much harder to
make these records now. Its like you work
three times as hard now. In the old days with
tape, you put it down and that was it. You
didnt have to look at it, you didnt have to do
all this crap that you have to do now. And you
didnt have to try to make it sound like tape.
The records that I made with tape stick out
because they were done on tape. You can make
it perfect with ProTools, but at the same time,
thats not what I go for. To me, like I said, its
the song, the performance. You want a perfect
record, go buy a new age or jazz or classical
record. This is rock n roll. Its having the grit,
the pain. You want to leave the pain and grit in
there. But there are a lot of great moments on
the record. All I know is, within the first
minute, when you put that thing on, you know
that Priest is back. After that its just such a
great ride. Its like a movie, man. Its like going
on a trip.
Angel of Retribution, for the most part, ful-
filled fans wishes with respect to delivering a
classic Judas Priest sound. Surveying the ter-
Greg Olma
rain, one hears a lot of Painkiller, a little bit of
Ram it Down, and in smaller doses, samplings
of the four albums before that. Essentially
therefore and oddly theres a lot of 80s
moments inherent.
For cover art, the band went with an
impressive Mark Wilkinson painting, a
mechanical Painkiller-like being which is the
angel of the title on offer. The figure gets some
additional treatments in the CD booklet,
another notable element being the incorpora-
tion of the Judas Priest cross or pitchfork into
the lettering of the logo. The band were defi-
nitely looking for an image that would work
well onstage and on merchandise as well,
Glenn adding, with respect to the meaning,
that it is the angel from Sad Wings transformed
or risen up and seeking retribution, Rob sec-
onding the motion, that it and the song
Judas Rising represents the figure leaving
a gloomy, despondent state and rising up with
optimism and energy.
well be able to keep our testicles next year
Eduardo Greif
Commented Rob on the title chosen for the
album, The word retribution was there right
from the get-go, and we were just stuck to that
word. I think Glenn came up with it. What that
word implies, wrapped around the reunion
and the attitude and all of the feelings that we
still try to convey . . . it was a good word to
propel us on. And then K.K. brought in the
idea of using angel, with the word retribution.
And again, as you probably know, the artwork
was an inspiration from Sad Wings of Destiny,
which basically shows that forlorn, despondent
angel figure in hell. And when we were able to
progress with that idea and see the final art-
work, it just made sense to call it Angel of
Retribution. It all really ties into the band, and
what were about.
Opener Judas Rising is a bit of a pulverizer
evocative of the Ripper era, notwithstanding
the amusing Victim of Changes opening
sequence. Not sure if the lyric matches up so
well with the title sentiment, which is essen-
tially sort of rote and obvious. Its great to hear
Rob back and cackling though, and all told, one
quickly cops to the fact that the sound of
reunion-era Priest is going to be less mechan-
ical than the harsh output of the Ripper era.
Rob states the obvious, that its an expected set
list opener. Judas Rising is a spectacular part
of the show, in conjunction with the special
effects and the backdrop and everything. The
essence of that song, the message it conveys,
that really is something we felt needed to be
included. Still, the song has a frustrating
push/pull quality to it, given Scotts plodding
one-and-three, double bass drum pattern. You
almost peg the song as a typical fast opener, but
then realize its actually quite slow.
Deal with the Devil picks up the pace, its
groove irresistible, its hooks effortless like most
of Screaming for Vengeance, the initial idea for
it springing from Roy Z, hence the only credit
on the album not going to the tried and true
trinity of Tipton, Halford, Downing.
Thats a little bit of an autobiography, isnt
it? says Rob. Youre talking about where
Priest came from. Its a bit tongue-in-cheek. I
was reflecting on some of the unfortunate
things that have happened, like that unfortu-
nate moment in Reno. Not trying to lighten the
moment or make fun of it, but give an
overview on how people in those days not
so much now how they used to observe
metal in a different way. And we were saying,
Yeah, we made a deal with the devil. Tongue-
in-cheek, of course.
K.K and Glenn send their fans into
shredder heaven with this one, rattling off
salvo after salvo, using different tones, speeds
. . . its something Priest is known for and this
Steven J. Messina
is one of their lustiest battle royales of all time.
Lyrically, there are references to the bands
rehearsal space from the days of yore, back in
Birmingham, the black country: Holy Joes
was the school room attached to the local
church, which was commandeered by the
pastor named Joe, who, Halford says, was reg-
ularly nipping into the consecrational wine.
Theres also a wistful line about tearing down
the M series of highways in Britain to deliver
the metal, a time-honored pursuit for many a
British headbanging institution.
Revolution was the pre-album teaser
track, and it definitely had the faithful ani-
mated, taking sides, debating like hellions. The
rhythms were almost nu-metal or jungle
(although that intro bass lick was actually
recorded in the 70s!), as were some of the
tones and vocal patterns. Still, there was no
mistaking that it was a brave, ambitious,
sophisticated track. And, once the full album
arrived, it stayed a defiant, out-there, eccentric
track, given the rest of the records fully 80s-
directed constructs. And once the second
chorus breaks in at about 1:38, Angel of Retri-
bution had its magic moment, its locus of
headbanged exhilaration. This is one that won
folks over methodically through repeated
plays. Its chorus drummed itself into your
head, and the time for retribution bit lined
up with Judas Rising to keep the band on
track, message framed. Notes Rob, Theres
just that thundering bass riff, another defini-
tive, spectacular, riffy Priest moment. And
again, its about the attitude of Priest, never
holding back, always being determined to
deliver a full roar, a full experience; that ones
got everything in it.
Worth Fighting For contributes greatly to
what Roy has said about the record being a
trip. Four tracks in and Priest have delivered
four vastly different styles, this one being a
smooth and drinkable hard rocker a tall
glass of water, as they say with a passionate
lyric and vocal, seductive axes from Glenn and
K.K., a classic one-note bob from Ian, all atop
well be able to keep our testicles next year
Ken Hower (
a relaxed and jammy open high-hat groove
from Scott. It is one of the great (yet unsung)
commercial tracks from the Priest catalog, and
to top it off, its chorus is gorgeous. With a title
like that, one would expect it to be yet another
career retrospective song, but Halford turns in
a poignant message about relationships, and
the fact that they are often worth fighting for.
Remarked Halford about the lyrical direc-
tion of the album in general, The tracks are all
over the place, as they always are. You know, if
youre in a fierce world of power and speed and
aggression, obviously the language has to
attach itself to that. We have a trademark, a
heritage if you will, in certain ways that we use
language on certain types of songs. To some
extent, the bulk of my work in Priest has been
away from the real world as a lyricist, which is
that Im not talking about real issues in real
time. However, I am talking about real issues in
fantasy time, so to speak, ambiguous time,
smoke-screen time. So Im still using that way
of displaying the language in the Priest lyrics
on this album. The writing roared out of us; it
was a blur. One minute Im writing the album
in October, and the next minute were almost
coming into the end of this big world tour that
we did all over Europe and then North
America. The floodgates opened, basically. Me
and Ken and Glenn didnt really have any idea
of what was going to happen, in terms of our
reunification musically. But the chemistry was
still there; it was as though the tap had been
turned off, and then the tap had been turned
back on again and everything came roaring out
the faucet and into the machines and saved. It
was just an ever-flowing experience and we
were delighted that we never hit a wall. There
were never any moments of frustration or the
well drying up; it was just all there, just coming
out and waiting to be assembled.
Next up is Demonizer which doesnt push
the envelope, really (and yes, Priest have deliv-
ered another er song, matching Manowar lick
for lick with their of titles), sounding a bit like
a cross between Judas Rising and any number
of Ripper-era dentist drills. Still, theres an inti-
macy, a humanity, in the track brought forth by
Steven J. Messina Steven J. Messina
Halfords anguish-filled vocal and Roys analog-
like production no mechanized sounds, each
instrument separate and discernible.
Demonizer is yet another double bass
drum rocker, Scott Travis and his abilities
allowing the band to write repeatedly in this
vein. But Travis downplays his chops when it
comes to contributing to the Priest. I think
Ive made an impression on people when Ive
been given the opportunity, and at the same
time, when I play the older stuff, which is
mostly the Dave Hollandera material, I like to
play like he plays it. I may throw in one or two
flares of my own, but for the most part, if I
were a fan, and I went to see this band or any
other band that had old material, Id want to
hear it the way it was recorded, or the way I
remember hearing it on the record. So in that
respect, I dont change things very much, the
stuff that Dave did or Les Binks, the drummer
prior to Dave. And Les was a really great
drummer, so some of the stuff that we do now
from his era is fun to play. I love Beyond the
Realms of Death, and we used to do Exciter.
Remarking cautiously on the lack of imagi-
nation inherent in Dave Hollands parts, Scott
says, But you know, in hindsight, the band had
their biggest years with Dave. I think Screaming
for Vengeance was probably their peak. And
then maybe after that it was Turbo, which was
a huge seller. Screaming for Vengeance was the
one that really put them on the map, as far as
making them cross over from being just an
underground metal band to all of a sudden a
commercially successful band, especially in the
United States. So between that and British
Steel, and like I say, Turbo and Defenders, those
were their biggest years, income-wise and in
every other respect. How can you argue with
that success? Believe me, I was one of the guys
in the audience, and I saw the Screaming for
Vengeance tour and I said, Man, I gotta play for
that band. I didnt feel that the drummer was
up to par with the rest of the musicians, but
like I say, having said that, they were definitely
peaking from a commercial standpoint.
Wheels of Fire impressively recalls the
magic that is Accept, Priest chugging along like
well be able to keep our testicles next year
Steven J. Messina
a freight train, the song written simply, and
right to the crux of the hypnotic headbang. As
with many wily Priest constructs, this ones
pre-chorus is in fact better than the chorus,
more in the spirit of striving for song, versus a
chorus that is merely striving for metal.
Angel is the albums ballad, Priest com-
pleting the circuit with respect to their
much-vaunted light and shade even though
this one lacks magnetism, sounding dour and
not much else. Hellrider is a ripper of a suc-
cessful rocker, a wholly new style for the album
late in the sequence, and as catchy as it is
uncompromisingly heavy. Says Rob, offering an
amusing example of his tendency to be verbose
and circular, Hellrider is just another Priest
definition of that style, that genre of metal, that
we created all those years ago. Its full of char-
acter and personality in the same vein as
Sinner or The Sentinel. If you look back at the
David Bridge
Mark Gromen
history of Priest, there are always one or two
songs that are kind of a new adventure for us
musically. So I remember when Glenn and Ken
and myself sat down to put that together, I sug-
gested the idea of taking that kind of late 50s,
early 60s pulp fictiontype emotion, and
bringing that into the style of the song, which,
again, was something Priest had never done.
Lyrically, Rob continues to massage in refer-
ences to past Priest songs, while vocally, he goes
for a spitting staccato style which gives way to a
bit of a weak chorus, which well excuse given
the superlative verse riff.
Eulogy is more or less a brief and somber
lead-in to Loch Ness, more catalog references
cluttering the fridge like so many Post-it notes.
Lyrically theres no real tie-in, but its brevity,
solitude and positioning before the albums
interminably long closer ensures that it will be
forgotten in the Priest catalog. Still, its nice to
hear Tipton sitting down at the piano again.
Comments Halford, with respect to these
little inserted references to past lyrics, That was
just a cool idea that Glenn suggested to me. He
said, What do you t